Windows into the Imagination

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Diving into the DoJ's Ruling against the Publishers--And Drowning in Nonsense

I'm reading this DoJ ruling against publishers and the deeper I read into it, the more ridiculous it sounds.

I really recommend reading it in depth and look at it logically because it's just hilarious how little it actually makes sense.

The DoJ recognized that 90% of the public comments it received were overly negative towards the DoJ's ruling.

Then it says "It is not practical, however, to address every argument
raised in the public comments and opposition briefs. Broadly
speaking, the comments in favor of the decree mirrored arguments
presented by the Government."

Basically it's saying that it was going to ignore anything except the 10% of comments that agreed with the ruling.


Then it says "They argued that the proposed
Final Judgment will promote retail competition and benefit
consumers by allowing for lower, competitive e-books prices. A
number of comments further argued that the decree will benefit
industry stakeholders, like authors, by increasing their royalty
payments and facilitating self-publishing."

First, self-publishers don't get a royalty. Self-publishers get to set their own book prices and give Amazon a commission for providing an online platform for selling the book. Something this DoJ ruling is denying publishers.

So self-publishers are allowed to set their own prices, but if you're a publisher, Amazon sets the prices for them. I can see how that's fair and right.

And I can see how reducing prices actually increases the amount that goes to an author when the author gets a percentage of that price because a percentage of a lower amount mathematically means more money. Did these people fail basic math?

The DoJ ruling only recognizes competition between retailers. The publishers want the competition to return to what it was before, competition between publishers.

Anyone whose not blind will see that there is no across the board setting of bestseller pricing. The prices are set according to the author. The more famous authors have higher pricing on their books. That makes sense.

Amazon coming along and slashing prices wholesale just to undersell its competition regardless of the actual value of the book and the author, is a disturbing trend.

What the DoJ and Amazon is trying to do is reduce the value of books and authors to a product whose price is manipulated by retailer competition alone.

Why is this bad? Because books aren't like normal products. Do you value a van Gogh according to all the valuable paint that he used? Or the artistic talent and the name of the artist?

Do you buy a book because of all the valuable paper you're getting or because of the story and the reputation of the author? Do you get a different story when it's in electronic format than if it was printed on paper?

Shouldn't publishers set their own individual prices for competition just like self-publishers set their own?

Should the competition be between the people who produce the books (publishers and self-publishers), because they have a better idea of what it's worth or should competition for books be between retailers who have no problems treating books like dollar store products?