European Regulators Reportedly Set to Approve Apple E-Book Settlement Proposal

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Nov 6, 2012.

  1. macrumors bot

    MacRumors

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    Reuters reports that regulators with the European Union are preparing to approve an offer from Apple and four book publishers to settle an antitrust action related to e-book pricing.
    Officials in the U.S. and Europe have been taking on Apple and publishers over a shift to an agency model for pricing in which publishers set retail prices for books and distributors such as Apple and Amazon receive a set percentage of the sales price. The model, championed by Apple for the 2010 launch of the iBookstore, was intended to reduce Amazon's dominance in a market where it could purchase books at wholesale prices and sell them at a deep discount to undercut other retailers.

    A key part of Apple's agency model was a "most favored nation" clause that prevented publishers from selling books to other retailers at prices lower than those offered to Apple. The clause was intended to prevent Amazon from striking deals to continue undercutting other retailers, but quickly drew criticism and the attention of regulators for potential price collusion effects.

    Under concessions offered by Apple and publishers in the European case, Apple's agency model would be significantly unraveled, with Amazon and others being allowed to set their own pricing for books.

    Article Link: European Regulators Reportedly Set to Approve Apple E-Book Settlement Proposal
     
  2. macrumors 6502a

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    #2
    Back to the bad old days where the big players can strong arm the publishers into selling at prices that make them little or no profit meaning less money to invest in new titles and back to the race to the bottom.
     
  3. macrumors 601

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    #3
    This is nonsense.

    The publishers set the wholesale price, then Amazon sells it for whatever they want.

    The publisher needs to set the wholesale price at a level that meets their profit needs.

    This is how just about every other product works (including paper books), why should ebooks be different?

    I don't buy into "lowering customer expectation" of price.
     
  4. macrumors 65816

    ovrlrd

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    #4
    The biggest issue is a fundamental difference in the way that Apple and Amazon operate.

    Amazon has always been about attracting people to their store. If it means making a small margin on ebooks, that is inconsequential to their bottom line.

    Apple has always been about selling hardware, and to do so they need virtual goods available to give their hardware a purpose. To make buying ebooks from Apple attractive, they need to have a huge catalog of books available for purchase. So what do they do? They make a deal with publishers that would attract them to the platform by not forcing a pricing model on them. The last thing publishers want is someone with a dominant position telling them how their books should be priced.

    Consumers don't like publishers forcing their prices, but the fact is that pricing has a huge psychological impact on people's opinions of a book. Psychology is always a big factor in marketing, and people tend to forget that because they hate revealing the man behind the curtain.
     
  5. macrumors 603

    Oletros

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    #5
    Publishers are paid FULL price
     
  6. macrumors 68000

    Porco

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    #6
    Apple probably don't have the same leverage now, given that since this all kicked off it's clear that Amazon own the market. If Apple were going to continue to play hardball, publishers would probably just say 'ok, see ya then Apple, won't really miss you!'.

    When you have hordes of Apple/mac/iOS devotees on a site like this one saying 'I buy all my ebooks from Amazon because I can read them on different devices' (even if only macs/PCs as well as an iOS device) Apple are on to a loser. Quite why they still haven't released an OS X iBooks reader is baffling. I get why they didn't immediately, but it's backfired, and they need to admit it, and fix it, if they ever want iBooks to be anything more than for niche and casual sales, rather than mass-market in the way iTunes is for media and the appstore is for software.
     
  7. SimonTheSoundMa, Nov 6, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2012

    macrumors 6502a

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    #7
    Large retailers, especially multinationals with large purchasing power bully most publishers in to lowering their prices. Retailers will even go as far as paying what they want, not what the publisher wants.

    This happens with publishers, record labels, electronics manufacturers, farmers to name a few industries.

    Example right now. Major retailers in the UK have forced to price of milk down to below cost price for the farmers. Many record labels have gone bust because online retailers would not pay full wholesale price.

    Smaller companies also form group purchasing organisations so they can have collective buying power, whih again allows them to either buy at discount or bully manufacturers or distributors.
     
  8. macrumors 601

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    #8
    So you're saying it's wrong for one company to do that to LOWER prices, but it's ok to do it to RAISE prices?

    That's what it boils down to.
     
  9. macrumors newbie

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    #9
    MacRumours should start using the correct iBooks icon :)

    [​IMG]
     
  10. macrumors 6502a

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    #10
    We're talking cost price, not retail price.



    Example:
    What they will do is the publisher will offer 100,000 books at $2 per unit. 100,000 books delivered, 3 months later the retailer has sold their stock sends payment to the publisher but at $1.80 per unit. It screws the publisher over.

    Just following on from everything-i comment.
     
  11. macrumors 65816

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    #11
    iBooks is a shelf of hurt. With no software on windows to read it, unlike Kindle and the prices are way too high.
     
  12. macrumors 601

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    #12
    So the publisher and Amazon enter into a contract to sell/buy something at a set price and then one party doesn't hold up their end of the contract?

    That's surely never going to happen.
     
  13. macrumors 6502a

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    #13
    Publishers can only charge decent prices for the block buster books but all the other stuff has the likes of Amazon setting the price or they just won't take it. You then end up with the only thing being supplied being the stuff Amazon considers worthy and the other stuff never published. They can do this because their high volume sales corner the market and stop anyone else from participating. All the smaller book shops have now closed and you have very little or no choice. With the Apple model it leveled the playing field to some extent so authors, publishers and suppliers could all make a decent profit. Ebooks are different because they are instantly available and any player can stock limitless numbers, it should have opened up the industry but instead the incumbents want to monopolise as usual. If there is any competition around they use their dominant place in the market to destroy it before it gets started. Basically without making a huge loss until your established there is no way to compete in this market and that is the basic problem.

    ----------

    And why do you think many of the publishers actually favoured Apples scheme. It gave them the ability to say what was sold and for what price. Amazon has caused huge problems for smaller publishers and authors because they can set the price or they just won't take the book. They can do this because there is now little choice in supplier as the smaller ones were all driven out of business and that gives the big players too much power over publishers.
     
  14. macrumors regular

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    #14
    What surprises me the most is that government regulators in some countries are willing to let Amazon establish a monopoly on eBooks by punishing those who want to open-up the market. Makes me wonder whether stuffed brown envelopes are involved somewhere along the line.

    Amazon only paid-out 30% of each sale, whereas Apple proposed 70% -- Apple's bottom line for eBook sales doesn't benefit, but the halo effect does. And this is exactly what Amazon is doing but at a far higher profit on smaller margins.

    Amazon wants to destroy the publishing market and has the buying power to tie-up the best authors by bidding higher than any publishing house -- eventually, Amazon will be the only book publisher around.
     
  15. macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    Because Apple gives them a chance to sit on the chair of the retailer, and make a boat load of money. Problem is, they are not the retailer. They are the publisher and distributor. They want to have their cake and eat it too.

    Personally, as long as ebooks are just as expensive as paper books, I will buy the cut down tree version any day thank you very much.

    If they can make a paper book and make money selling it at $10, they can sell an electronic version for $5 and still make more than a good profit.
     
  16. macrumors 603

    Oletros

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    #16
    Really? Are you accusing them of corruption?
     
  17. macrumors 601

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    #17
    They want a market where the price of products is set by the consumer through competition, not illegally by the publisher.
     
  18. macrumors 68020

    jayducharme

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    No. That's just how your books are delivered, in stuffed brown envelopes.

    I was really hoping that Apple would succeed in the textbook realm. Right now, students are paying over $100 for a book that will be obsolete in a year. Selling it back to the bookstore at the end of the semester reaps a tiny fraction of what the student paid. There's absolutely no valid reason the books should cost that much -- and in most cases no need for new editions so frequently.

    Apple's vision of having an iBook version with unlimited updates for a $14.99 maximum price would make education so much more affordable for students (especially since more and more schools are providing iPads). But I guess it won't happen that way....
     
  19. macrumors 6502a

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    #19
    Except the $10 paper book only probably costs them $1 to print and they would be selling it for more if Amazon hadn't beat them up on the deal to stock it. The book market his currently in a mess with big players like Amazon having monopoly power and it looks like it isn't going to get any better now. There is no real reason with e-books why the publisher shouldn't be the retailer as well, Amazon offers no advantage other than providing a portal for multiple publishers offerings. After all many software companies sell direct and that doesn't cause problems. After all if they price it too high you don't have to buy it.
     
  20. macrumors G5

    gnasher729

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    Printing books is _cheap_. Writing, and editing, and selling, that's the parts that cost the real money.
     
  21. Daveoc64, Nov 6, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2012

    macrumors 601

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    #21
    There are two problems with this:

    1) The publishers won't sell that low. It's just too much of a difference from their current model. They're also incredibly crazy about piracy, so many textbooks don't get made as an ebook. Ironically, the pirates often have copies of these books!

    2) Are updates that beneficial? Most students will keep a textbook for 1-2 years. I get a textbook, use it and then that's it. I don't care that it got an update a month after my course finished. That update has zero value to me.
     
  22. macrumors regular

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    #22
    You don't understand what's being discussed here. We're talking about RETAIL prices, not COST prices. Shops cannot haggle with distributors over prices -- what possible leverage do they have?

    If a shop wants to sell a product at a lower than cost price in order to get more people in the store, they should be allowed to. It doesn't affect the publishers in the slightest.

    When Amazon discounts their non-eBook products, the publishers (distributors) still get exactly the same amount of money. How do I know this? Because I've spoken to publishers about this very issue!
     
  23. macrumors 6502

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    #23
    Honestly, I don't think many people truly understand, with either model the Publishers set the price they are willing to accept.

    The difference between the two is Apple says we will ALWAYS take 30%, meaning that the cost will be 30% above what the publisher is willing to accept. Amazon says we will pay you what you are willing to accept, but we will set the price, we might take a loss on some titles, 10% profit on some others and maybe 50% profit on yet other titles.

    Either way the Publisher gets the exact same amount of money per title. But there's a catch with Apple's model, they tell the publisher that they can't let Amazon sell at a lower price than the book is sold for on Apple's site.

    Bottom line is they wouldn't get away with this if this were physical books and say Barnes & Noble tried to tell the publishers that they can't let Crown Books (I only know of one store, but I can't think of any other national chains that even have that many stores left) sell at a lower price. There would be Antitrust lawsuits galore, why should eBooks be any different?

    Bottom line is retailers are allowed to set the prices that they choose to set. Now, in some cases the manufacturers can request that prices not be set below a certain price, but in this case that would mean the publishers can request this, not the retailers (Apple & Amazon). Walmart can't tell Sony that they can't let Best Buy sell their products for less money for example.
     
  24. macrumors 68020

    jayducharme

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    #24
    Yes they will. Apple announced that a majority of them have already agreed to that pricing scheme. That's when the anti-trust investigation started.

    But it has huge value to teachers (like me) who often have to deal with multiple editions or current editions not being available or students buying editions off the Net. With Apple's system, everyone would have the exact same edition and that's extremely important in the classroom.
     
  25. macrumors regular

    token787

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    #25
    It's time they stop the bullying and lower the cost on ebooks. Idk why an ebook would cost waaaaay more than a tree book.
     

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