European Commission Accepts Proposal by Penguin to End Apple E-Book Pricing Deal

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jul 25, 2013.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    European regulators have accepted a promise by the British media group Penguin and German media conglomerate Bertelsmann to scrap deals on electronic books, also known as "e-books", with Apple which were found to be in breach of European competition policy.

    Penguin was not the only company in the firing line. Back in December 2012, the Commission criticized the practices of four large publishers, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, Holtzbrinck and Harper Collins, of working with Apple via an "agency model" whereby the publishers set the retail price and the distributor takes a fee (30% in Apple's case).

    Under the "wholesale model" in place before Apple entered the market, publishers sell their goods to distributors for fixed prices and allow the distributors decide the final retail prices. The agency model came under fire for causing a rise in retail prices of e-books compared to the wholesale model championed by Amazon and Google. Under Apple's "most favored nation" contract clauses, it was allowed to match lower pricing by other retailers, and with the support of the major publishers effectively forced the entire industry to switch to the agency model, raising antitrust issues in a number of regions.

    Joaquín Almunia, the European Commissioner for Competition, said in a press release from this morning:
    The development comes after a district judge in the United States, Denise Cote, said that Apple played a "central role" in helping to fix the price of e-books. Court documents show that Apple, along with five other publishers, "conspired to raise, fix, and stabilize the retail price for newly released and bestselling trade e-books in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1 ("Sherman Act") and various state laws". Apple has steadfastly claimed that it has done nothing wrong and will appeal the decision.

    The European Commission is well-known for imposing large fines on companies who fail to follow practices designed to protect consumers against anti-competitive behavior. In 2009, Intel was handed a record-breaking EUR1.06 billion ($1.45 billion) fine for the abuse of its dominance in the computer chip market and in 2004, Microsoft was fined EUR497 million (around $795 million) for offering Windows Media Player standard with its operating systems as well as providing no information about competing network software to interact with Windows desktops and servers.

    Article Link: European Commission Accepts Proposal by Penguin to End Apple E-Book Pricing Deal
  2. ka-spot macrumors 6502a

    May 23, 2012
    Sofia, Bulgaria
    O, come on! Who the hell is penguin and why he isn't jumping on the north pole?
  3. ee13lbp macrumors member

    Aug 19, 2012
    This joke is so bad it's moderately funny.

    Anyhow, nice to see more lawsuits ending.
  4. itr81 macrumors regular

    Jul 12, 2010
    At some point I wonder if apple my just drop out or start suing all governments and companies because its unable to compete and keep their ebook store open. I really think its just matter time..maybe within 5 yrs or less.
  5. Mad Mac Maniac macrumors 601

    Mad Mac Maniac

    Oct 4, 2007
    A little bit of here and a little bit of there.
    Really MacRumors? Thanks for that. I've been wondering for a long time.... :rolleyes:
  6. charlituna, Jul 25, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2013

    charlituna macrumors G3


    Jun 11, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    Don't be so sure it is ending. Apple could petition successfully to have this delayed pending their appeal in the US which appears to be guidance for the EU in their actions. Then if they win the appeal it could make a muck of things in regards to nixing contracts etc without their consent.

    Or Apple could find a way to sue in the EU for contract violation or some such citing the lack of anyone actually finding them guilty of anything. Or if they have been there might still be appeals that haven't finished out. Until they have you can bet Apple will do what they can to block the dissolution of contracts or being forced to change terms.

    Ultimately little to nothing could change. At least for a while. And frankly that sounds about right to me. If the publishers want to settle fine, if the EU wants to set limits on what they can price their books, fine. Apple doesn't control pricing so they can't really fight that. But these moves of forcing contracts to cancel in total when no one has proven agency is anti consumer etc (even if amazon doesn't like it) is not okay. Not when it could come with the price of Apple simply cutting all sales in the EU. Putting Amazon back as THE Ebook reseller is not good, just as it wasn't good before. But neither the US or EU said boo until it was big bad Apple in the mix. And that is not good either.
  7. Aidyn's X macrumors regular

    Mar 25, 2010
    I still don't see what the problem is with the agency model. This allows independent writers to put their books on the iBookStore, dictate their own prices, and take home 70% just like independent programmers do with their Apps. You can actually skip the publishers altogether by purchasing your own UPC code (can be done for around $100) and then voila, you have a published book for sale.
  8. kmoreau48 macrumors member


    Nov 3, 2012
    Correct me if I'm wrong but from what I understand;

    "agency model" : if the publisher wants to make 10$, he has to increase the price by 30%, knowing that apple would take 30% profit.

    "wholesale model" : the publisher sells its books to apple for 10$ and apple wants to make 30% profit so they just increase the price 30%.

    at the end of the day, wouldn't the price still be the same? The only difference I see is who makes the calculation.

    PS: I know there are a lot more maths involved -> 30% of $10 = $3 is less than 30% of $13 = $3.9.. so for the "agency model" the publisher needs to know 30% of what price will make him 10$ of profit. So if x is the price that the book is going to be sold the publisher wants to use x-0.3x = $10 of profit
    solving for x, he will need to sell its book at $14.29.
    30% of 14.29 = 4.29 profit to apple and 14.29-4.29 = 10 profit to publisher
    (and I didn't include the taxes...)

    I must have missed something (or misunderstood) because I don't see what's wrong with e-book prices.
  9. NATO macrumors 68000


    Feb 14, 2005
    Northern Ireland
    I doubt it, that's fundamentally how markets work - if you can't compete, you go out of business (or exit that particular area of business)
  10. pirg macrumors 6502a


    Apr 18, 2013
    How'd you word it on your website?
  11. MacSawdust macrumors member

    Jun 13, 2002
    At that time...

    Apple abused their 0% market share in ebooks?
  12. jonAppleSeed macrumors regular

    Mar 21, 2013
    It kills competition. With agency, every reseller has to follow your prices so you'll never find it cheaper anywhere other then the iBook store.
  13. Oletros macrumors 603


    Jul 27, 2009
    Premià de Mar
    What are you talking about? Apple has already settle with the EU.

    Apple can't petition, the US is not a guidance for the EU case, Apple can't sue nobody for breach of contract. Really, where have you read any of what you have claimed?


    Agency model was not a problem and is not illegal.

    The problem was the alleged collusion between publishers and Apple to force the agency model to other ebook stores.


    Wrong, agency model doesn't imply that the price is the same in all the stores
  14. jonAppleSeed macrumors regular

    Mar 21, 2013
    What it implies is you can't set the price lower than what the publishing house wants it to be sold at.
    So resellers are forced to sell at this price if they want to compete. Because who is going to sell it for more when they know the competition is going to be competing on price.
  15. kmoreau48 macrumors member


    Nov 3, 2012
    So it still depends on the price that the publisher sells the books to the resellers. If the book is sold $10, then apple takes 30% from it so the publisher is making only $7 of profit...
    but when it is sold to another reseller that follows the "wholesale model" for $10, the publisher is making $10 and then the reseller have a hard time making a profit because apple is selling it at $10...

    1. So why would the publisher still sell its book for $10 to apple when he knows he will make less profit?

    2. If other resellers want to be competitive with apple, why don't they just use the same business model and take 30% from the price?

    I mean if the publisher is willing to make less profit from apple, I don't see how apple is to blame when the price is set by the publisher.

    I still don't get it :confused:
  16. dcorban macrumors 6502a


    Oct 29, 2007
    Apple wasn't the sole "defendant". They are just the only one to not agree to a settlement. The other publishers would be in the same boat. Apple and the other publishers allegedly colluded to ultimately raise prices.

    What the regulatory bodies and courts fail to realize, is that ebooks might not even be in the apple store if this agreement was not made. The millions of iPad owners would likely prefer to have ebooks costing a few dollars more than have no ebooks.

    I have no skin in this game. Ebooks in general are ridiculously priced for what you get. They would have to cost 50% or less than physical books for me to make the sort of compromises the publishers are currently asking.
  17. foobarbaz macrumors 6502

    Nov 29, 2007
    Funny. While the rest of Europe and the US fight fixed book prices, they are mandated by law in Germany. In fact, the entire book industry works on the agency model, here. :(
  18. AppleMark macrumors 6502a


    Jun 17, 2009
    The CCTV Capital of the World
    This is only of interest to me, if the price of E-Books come down. Which they probably will not, so not interested.
  19. EbookReader macrumors 65816

    Apr 3, 2012
    that's because price-fixing (for books) is legal in Germany.

    by law

    Same with France and Spain.

    Retail price competitions for books in those countries don't exist.

    Pros: more places to buy books since a 1,000 store chain can't undercut a mom and pop bookstore on prices
    Cons: higher prices for consumers since discount is not allowed
  20. KALLT macrumors 601

    Sep 23, 2008
    But conversely all other eBook users would have to accept Apple's interference with the eBook market and the overall price increase. The Commission is not against the agency model, in fact it condones it because there are non-economic considerations at play too, e.g. diversity of books as cultural goods. What the Commission is concerned with is that Apple facilitated illegal price fixing within the entire eBook market. If Apple wants to stick with its pricing scheme then it has to accept that it may be driven off the market by cheaper offerings. That is how it should be: the market dictates the price, not Apple.

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