EU investigators start investigation into probable possible price fixing by ebook publishers.
Following closely on the heels of an investigation by the British Office of Fair Trade (OFT) into accusations that major publishers are guilty of cartel forming in order to dictate the prices that their ebooks are sold for, it has been announced that EU regulators have gone as far as to raid the offices of a number of publishers around Europe in the last couple of days.
The reason behind this is the claim that these publishers might be guilty of setting up a price fixing ring (cartel forming), which is completely illegal in Europe, as it is seen as a way to avoid competition between publishers.
If it turns out that the pricing structure that these publishers have agreed to between themselves is in fact price fixing, then very considerable fines will result, and obviously, the price fixing will come to a very abrupt end!
The EU regulators have refused to name any of the publishers they have raided, but have said that they are working very closely with the OFT in their investigations, and that they see sufficient grounds to think that an illegal price ring may well have been set in place by these publishers.
Interesting times indeed.
Still shooting themselves in the feet……
Once again, it seems that the publishers have managed to very skillfully shoot themselves firmly in the foot, something they have demonstrated an amazing ability to do over the last 12 months. In fact, given the number of times they have achieved this (non-working DRM, Agency Model for pricing, refusing to allow text to speech, strange games with licenses for libraries and so on……) I can only assume their feet are now extremely tattered, by all those bullets they have managed to shoot into them.
To be honest, I wouldn’t actually particularly care if they do have a price ring in place, if it wasn’t for the fact that the prices they are now charging for ebooks have steadily crept upwards to the ludicrous point we now have where an ebook can cost as much as double the hardback version of the same book.
This is plainly stupid, given that one isn’t even actually the owner of any ebook one ‘buys”, but merely a one-user license holder, with terms and conditions that the publisher can alter at any time, should they so wish, but we have no say in…. An odd sort of contract, that is totally dictated by one of the two parties involved, wouldn’t you say?
And now random House have joined in too……
And to make it even sillier, Random House have caved in and joined the infamous Agency Model for pricing, so now almost all the major publishers are in this cozy little club, and are happily dictating to all ebook sellers around the world the retail prices they must charge for their ebooks. “Competition? Nah, we don’t want that, much too wild and woolly for us respectable publishers“ seems to be the cry.
I posted an article about a move to boycott Harper Collins yesterday, I am now beginning to think that we will have to boycott almost all publishers if we are ever to get them to see that they are driving their customers directly into the arms of the Torrents….. Torrents ( websites where you can download illegal copies of various media) are springing up like mushrooms all over the world as the publishers become more and more rabid in their attempts to treat their customers (well, perhaps ex-customers) in such a disrespectful manner.
Do publishers think?
I am bemused by what passes for thought processes in the publishing industry. I appreciate that they are nervous of their product being sold illegally, and also scared of the whole idea of digital books, but their attempts to come to terms with it all are simply disastrous for them, their authors and us, their customers, and every week they seem to come up with yet another idea that will infuriate even more people.
Another way of approaching it… Baen.
If only they would go and talk to the good folk at Baen Library, a very successful online publisher of SciFi and Fantasy, who have firmly refused to use DRM protection, charge fair prices for their books and generally treat their customers with respect, and as a result are doing very well indeed, and not having to waste enormous amounts of their resources in all manner of feeble and pointless attempts to keep things in their control.
It can be done like that, as Baen have shown.
However, I know that no large publisher will even look at Baen’s model, it is too simple, assumes that people are honest, and is not greedy either…. so the mess will continue and only get worse I am afraid.
Luckily, unless one is desperate to read the latest from Stephen King, or similar, the net has hundreds of sites where one may download very good reading for very reasonable prices, often free in fact.
So I would suggest that you buy all your Block Buster type reading from the remainders boxes in your local bookshop, or even better, get it from your local library, and only use online ebook sellers who offer ebooks at reasonable prices. If enough of us do this, then perhaps these idiotic publishers might, just might see that their interests would be better served by a more reasonable approach to their business……..
Link to previous post on this topic: britains-office-of-fair-trading-opens-investigation-of-agency-model-ebook-pricing-system/
Share with us:
So, what do you think about all of this? do share your thoughts with us here please…