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.
Decoding the Department of Justice's antitrust whodunnit
FORTUNE -- At a hearing in a Manhattan federal court Wednesday, attorneys for Apple (AAPL) and two major book publishers said that rather than settling -- as three of their co-defendants had -- they wanted to go to trial to defend themselves against U.S. government charges that they had colluded illegally to raise e-book prices. (See The Apple e-book conspiracy: Three days in January.)
Which means MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 19, 2012 3:16 PM ET
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
The settlement the Justice Department is seeking could shutter the iBookstore
Reuters and Bloomberg have both reported -- citing a pair of unnamed sources -- that Apple (AAPL) and one or two major publishers are preparing to get sued for antitrust violations, perhaps as early as today.
Three of the five publishers accused of colluding with Apple to fix the prices of e-books have reportedly accepted deals offered by the European Commission and MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 11, 2012 7:12 AM ET
The Department of Justice and AT&T have one thing in common: neither side wants to talk about the real rationale for the T-Mobile takeover.
FORTUNE -- When AT&T bet $39 billion that it could acquire T-Mobile -- including $6 billion it won't get back even if regulators kill the deal -- it gambled on a clever strategy that suddenly seems too clever by half.
AT&T (T) advertised the benefits of the merger MOREScott Woolley - Sep 1, 2011 9:35 AM ET
A deal could be just days away, but insiders warn it could all unravel.
Politico reports that Google (GOOG) and the Department of Justice could be "just days away" from an agreement for the search giant to acquire ITA Flight pricing and scheduling software. But negotiations are getting tense and the deal could unravel at any moment.
Google announced its intentions to purchase ITA in July for $700 million.
Among conditions on the table are possible MORESeth Weintraub - Feb 25, 2011 12:40 PM ET
Legal departments turn to technology to handle an onslaught of regulatory requests
By Aaref Hilaly , president and CEO, Clearwell Systems
Have some sympathy for your corporate legal department – it's facing the perfect storm.
Like everyone else this year, the legal department is required to cut its budget, in some cases by 20% or more. But unlike other departments, legal faces a greatly increased workload. It's not so much because of litigation, MOREOct 22, 2009 11:00 AM ET
Microsoft, Yahoo and others band against Google - using familar tactics.
By Jia Lynn Yang, writer
With its friendly, helpful image and total dominance in search, Google (GOOG) makes it all look so easy. Meanwhile its enemies are just sweating harder to take it down.
There are reports today that Microsoft (MSFT), Yahoo (YHOO), Amazon (AMZN) and others are banding together to block a settlement Google made last fall with authors and publishers MOREAug 21, 2009 2:42 PM ET
As three suspected hackers face federal charges in connection with the largest identity theft case ever to reach America's courts, personal identity theft is once again thrown into sharp relief as a major challenge to businesses. The men, which include 28 year-old Miami resident Albert Gonzalez, are now are accused of hacking into the computer systems of five companies, including credit-card processing company Heartland Payment Systems Inc., Hannaford Bros. supermarkets, and 7-Eleven to steal more than 130 million credit and debit card numbers.
Gonzalez's name may ring a bell because he has been affiliated with similar cases in the past: he has been tied to other large data theft cases including the theft of more than 40 million credit card numbers from TJX cos (TJ Maxx), OfficeMax, Barnes & Nobles and other companies last summer as well as the theft of thousands of cards from Dave & Busters in 2007. Gonzalez is currently in jail awaiting trial, according to news reports.
This case may be far more massive than any that have come before it, but unfortunately for both businesses and consumers, it is not unusual in its charges.Jessi Hempel, writer - Aug 18, 2009 2:10 PM ET
Back in June, before the ties that bound the two companies unraveled and Google's (GOOG) Eric Schmidt resigned from Apple's (AAPL) board of directors, the New York Times reported that the U.S. Department of Justice had begun an antitrust investigation into the two companies' hiring practices.
The issue was whether Apple and Google had made an anti-poaching deal -- an agreement not to go fishing each others' talent pool -- that MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Aug 8, 2009 7:02 AM ET
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