More heavy-handed behavior from the book world's 500-pound gorilla
FORTUNE -- Publishers who have had to deal with Amazon's (AMZN) arrogant reps know first hand the contempt with which they hold folks in the business of printing books on paper.
Now that the company is in the media's spotlight following the Justice Department's ass-backwards antitrust suit, the rest of us are getting a taste for how the book world's 500-pound gorilla operates.
The DOJ, you may recall, skipped right over Amazon -- a e-book monopolist selling titles below cost -- and instead sued the publishers left gasping for air by Amazon's aggressive pricing. (Apple was also named in the suit, but it can afford to fight the government for as long as it takes.)
Since then we have learned:
As if that weren't enough, David Carr tells the sad story in Monday's New York Times of Buzz Bissinger's sequel to "Friday Night Lights," the book that inspired a Hollywood movie and a hit TV series.
Bissenger had written a 12,000-word sequel, "After Friday Night Lights," for Byliner.com, a start-up producing long-form e-books for digital readers. Bissenger priced the title at $2.99 and was going to share the proceeds with Boobie Miles, a running back whose football career was cut short by injury, when things went awry. As Carr tells it:
The plan hit a pothole after Apple (AAPL), which had been looking to get into shorter works in a digital format, decided to include e-books in a promotion that it does with Starbucks. It selected Mr. Bissinger's digital sequel as a Pick of the Week, giving customers a code they could redeem online for the book. (Mr. Bissinger said he still received a royalty of $1.50 for each copy sold.)
Amazon interpreted the promotion as a price drop and lowered its price for "After Friday Night Lights" to exactly zero. Byliner withdrew the book from Amazon's shelves, saying it did so to "protect our authors' interest."
Mr. Bissinger, who has built a franchise on journalistic excellence and rhetorical intemperance — see his Twitter account — managed to choose his words carefully when talking about how his e-book ended up as a bug on the windshield of Amazon's relentlessness on pricing.
I wonder if the DOJ is watching any of this.
Shares opened higher, despite news the company may have stepped in legal quicksand
Having Justice Department lawyers around, veteran tech watcher Dana Blankenhorn reminds us in a Seeking Alpha post this morning, "is bad for any company. Especially antitrust lawyers. Especially tech companies."
"Every tech company the Justice Department has ever gone after -- IBM (IBM), the former AT&T (T), and (most especially) Microsoft (MSFT) can attest to this fact. All were transformed and MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 11, 2012 11:20 AM ET
Warns Apple and five book publishers that they are about be sued for collusion
The late Steve Jobs was never one to worry much about antitrust laws.
He made a casual agreement with Google (GOOG) in 2008 not to poach one anothers' top employees that U.S. regulators saw as an illegal attempt to hold down wages. In early 2010 he devised a subscription model for iPad magazines that put draconian restrictions on MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Mar 8, 2012 9:52 AM ET
All the pre-publicity in the world can't beat a good first-person shooter
It's hard to imagine what more could have been done to drum up interest in Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs. The only biography of Apple's (AAPL) CEO written with Jobs' cooperation hit the bookstores 19 days after his death in a tsunami of publicity, from 60 Minutes to Charlie Rose to Jon Stewart and everything in between.
And the book did MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Nov 5, 2011 2:13 PM ET
Expected since early summer, Google is now in the eBooks business.
Google (GOOG) opened its eBook store today. While it isn't called "Editions," as was widely reported, much of the other expected details about the new service were correct. Google calls it the world's largest selection of ebooks. The branding is a little confusing as Google shifts frequently between "books," the generic "eBooks," and "eBookstore."
Google's eBooks is a Cloud service. You MORESeth Weintraub - Dec 6, 2010 2:08 PM ET
Google may also be creating controversial cataloging issues in its attempt to index the world's information,
Saying they've unearthed a very specific 129,864,880 books (and growing since tallied on Sunday), Google today blogged their method and rationale for counting every book the world has ever produced.
Google (GOOG) has its own special counting method, which may end up being controversial to the world's librarians who've standardized on ISBNs (International Standard Book Numbers). Google contends that MORESeth Weintraub - Aug 6, 2010 11:27 AM ET
How the e-book and the bookstore can co-exist.
by Michael Edwards, CEO, Borders
We've heard it all before: digital content means the end of physical media. As consumers flock to the convenience of instant gratification and on-the-go content, traditional business models will be overturned, commerce will move online, and traditional retail outlets and the products on their shelves will go the way of the typewriter.
Or maybe not.
There's no question that both MOREJun 21, 2010 4:17 PM ET
by John Patrick Pullen, contributor
If students embrace textbooks on the iPad, college bookstores may lose their shirts.
It may be the season for graduation parties and commencement speeches, but colleges and universities are already prepping for next year, even in the bookstore. Next fall, during opening weekend, students will once again file into university bookstores to purchase course materials, school supplies, and a college sweatshirt or two.
While the university licensed MOREMay 17, 2010 3:00 AM ET
Google has the support of almost all publishers in the United States for its 'Editions' digital bookstore, due out this summer.
Google currently has 25,000 authors and almost all U.S. publishers signed up for the Editions service, reports Kyodo News.
While having U.S. publishers on board is significant, Google's biggest advantage over other online sellers is its ability to distribute out-of-print books.
Of the four million books Google expects to publish at the opening MORESeth Weintraub - May 10, 2010 1:36 PM ET
Google will launch a digital book store as early as next month that takes on Amazon, Apple and Barnes & Noble with Google 'Editions'.
Chris Palma, manager for strategic-partner development at Google, announced the new service at Random House's Manhattan offices at an event sponsored by the Book Industry Study Group. The title of his presentation was called "The Book on Google: Is the Future of Publishing in the Cloud?"
Google's vision of MORESeth Weintraub - May 4, 2010 2:51 PM ET
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