Independent publishers shouldn’t overlook this week’s announcement that the European Commission is to investigate ebook price fixing by Apple and five major publishers. The implication is that the agreement between the publishers and Apple has forced up the prices of e-books in Europe, leading to higher profits for the publishers and book sellers.
You might think this is good news for independent publishers. After all, if mainstream publishers have hiked their prices, then we have a competitive advantage- we can set much lower prices. But it doesn’t work like that. If ebook prices in Europe are high, there is less incentive for people to buy ebook readers. And if sales of ebook readers are sluggish, then the market for independent publishers is smaller, and we sell less.
So the investigation by the European Commission is important for independents. As is the class action lawsuit launched against Apple and the same five publishers in the Northern District of California earlier this summer. After all, we want as big an ebook market as we can get, worldwide. Continue reading