Over the past weeks, Apple, Amazon, Google and several book publishers have appeared in court to give testimony over Apple’s alleged involvement in e-book price fixing back in January 2010. Various revelations along the way have swung in favor of Apple, while others have dealt a damning blow to Cupertino’s reputation. Perhaps the most unavoidable piece of evidence was the contract Apple had with publishers allowing them to set prices, but also, forcing said publishing houses to change their contracts with the likes of Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Google so that they could no longer offer competitive pricing.
In a 160-page ruling, Judge Denise Cote stated that Apple was guilty of colluding on e-book pricing. As reported by The Wall Street Journal:
“The plaintiffs have shown that the publisher defendants conspired with each other to eliminate retail price competition in order to raise e-book prices, and that Apple played a central role in facilitating and executing that conspiracy,” U.S. District Judge Denise Cote said in a 160-page ruling. “Without Apple’s orchestration of this conspiracy, it would not have succeeded as it did in the Spring of 2010”
While the result is far from surprising, it will be interesting to see what happens from here on in. Will book sellers seek to re-negotiate with publishers, or will the “agency model” of allowing publishers to set prices remain. Personally, I’d love to see book prices lowered across the board. I often find iBooks too expensive to download on a whim, and they’re much more of a luxury purchase than any apps may be.