Earlier this week the Department of Justice filed suit against Apple and five other publishing houses: Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette Book Group, Penguin, and Macmillan with accusations of alleged price fixing (with the group colluding to raise the price of electronic books for iPad and iPhone).
Three of the publishers (HarperCollins, Hachette and Simon & Schuster) were quick to sign settlements, but Apple has held firm in their resolve to defend themselves and issued a response of their own.
Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr gave the following comment:
“The DOJ’s accusation of collusion against Apple is simply not true. The launch of the iBookstore in 2010 fostered innovation and competition, breaking Amazon’s monopolistic grip on the publishing industry. Since then customers have benefited from eBooks that are more interactive and engaging. Just as we’ve allowed developers to set prices on the App Store, publishers set prices on the iBookstore.”
The statement from Apple is not unlike those given by the other publishers choosing to defend themselves. John Sargent, CEO of Macmillan Publishers USA, made his feelings very clear:
“It is also hard to settle a lawsuit when you know you have done no wrong. The government’s charge is that Macmillan’s CEO colluded with other CEO’s in changing to the agency model. I am Macmillan’s CEO and I made the decision to move Macmillan to the agency model. After days of thought and worry, I made the decision on January 22nd, 2010 a little after 4:00 AM, on an exercise bike in my basement. It remains the loneliest decision I have ever made, and I see no reason to go back on it now.
Other publishers have chosen to settle. That is their decision to make.”
If the remaining group members are found guilty it would mean they worked together to undermine the dominance that Amazon.com has enjoyed to date in the digital book market.
While I think we can expect a heated and long-drawn-out battle it should be an interesting one made of of players not easily intimidated by the government or litigation in general.