Independent publishers back Apple in ebook price-fixing suit £399
16th Apr 2012 | 20:58
Hope to keep ebook pricing out of the hands of 'predatory' Amazon
Apple has received backing from smaller, independent publishers as it prepares to fight a lawsuit alleging it colluded to fix ebook prices.
The US Department of Justice has accused Apple of working with five of the biggest names in publishing to stop Amazon and co lowering digital book prices.
Three of the publishers have agreed to settle out of court, while Apple, Macmillan and Penguin are all set to fight the writ.
However, a victory for the DoJ would be a major blow according to smaller groups, which say Amazon presents a far bigger threat to the industry than Apple.
Don't scrap the agency model
Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, an e-book publisher and distributor said: "I hope this lawsuit fails," claiming a victory would give Amazon free reign to indulge in 'predatory pricing.'
Coker spoke with the DoJ following the announcement last week, and urged them not to dismantle the 'agency model' which binds retailers to selling ebook titles at prices set by the publishers.
"My message to the DOJ was that self-published authors are benefitting from the agency model," he said.
"I told them to blame the publishers for setting prices too high, but don't blame them for the agency model. There's nothing wrong with that.
"If the DOJ dismantles the agency model then they're bringing a return to the e-book pricing war. In a situation like that only Apple and Amazon can afford to sell books at a loss over a projected time. It would quickly snuff out small, independent retailers."
Coker also accuses Amazon of being 'obsessed with competitors,' and while a price war would be good for consumers in the short term, everyone would suffer in the long run.