17 more states join e-book class action lawsuit against Apple, Steve Jobs involvement surfaces
17 more American states have joined the class action lawsuit against Apple and publishers for e-book pricing collusion according to amended court documents. That makes it a total of 31 states involved, plus the case from the Department of Justice which is running in parallel. The new docs also revealed an e-mail from the late Steve Jobs describing how he saw the situation to the parent company of one of the conspiring publishers.
As I see it, [Conspiring Publisher] has the following choices: 1. Throw in with Apple and see if we can all make a go of this to create a real mainstream ebooks market at $12.99 and $14.99. 2. Keep going with Amazon at $9.99. You will make a bit more money in the short term, but in the medium term Amazon will tell you they will be paying you 70% of $9.99. They have shareholders too. 3. Hold back your books from Amazon. Without a way for customers to buy your ebooks, they will steal them. This will be the start of piracy and once started, there will be no stopping it. Trust me, I’ve seen this happen with my own eyes. Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t see any other alternatives. Do you?
Other evidence shows a back-and-forth between Apple's Eddy Cue and MacMillan CEO John Sargent where Apple shot down requests to lower the 30% standard cut. Still, there are signs of obvious collusion, particularly in one set of e-mails where the publishers in question referred to themselves as "The Club" when discussing staggered releases of print and digital editions.
iBooks isn't particularly huge right now, but Apple is clearly aggressive about it, and their approach to competing with Amazon will make or break their success in the world of e-books. In the worst case scenario, Apple and their publishing partners will have to pay some fines, and odds are their prices will have to go down, which, though potentially painful for the industry, is all gravy for end consumers.
Here are all of the ammended legal documents if you're interested in taking a look.