U.S. Justice Department confirms antitrust probe of Apple iBookstore, publishers, e-book industry

“The U.S. Justice Department confirmed Wednesday that it is conducting an antitrust investigation into the pricing of electronic books, the latest antitrust watchdog to probe whether there was improper collusion by publishers and Apple Inc. to prevent discounting,” Thomas Catan reports for The Wall Street Journal.

Catan reports, “At a congressional hearing, Sharis Pozen, the Justice Department’s acting antitrust chief, said: ‘We are also investigating the electronic book industry, along with the European Commission and the states attorneys general.'”

Read more in the full article (subscription required) here.

28 Comments

    1. Where is the proof in this statement? This isn’t about MSFT lobbying. This is more proof of Obama’s corrupcrats (Eric Holder FTL) at the DOJ having nothing better to do than interfere with the U.S. private sector. There is absolutely no reason to pursue anti-trust investigations with Apple’s limited share in this business. Absolutely ridiculous.

      1. Blaming the Obama adminstration for “corruption” is like blaming General Motors for auto pollution. This country’s problems are profoundly systemic. Anyone who thinks otherwise is simply deluded.

        1. Right. Like the guy that knowingly drove his friend to an ex-girlfriend”s apartment to murder is not an accomplice. “Hey, I was just giving him a ride. I had nothing to do wi the killing.”

          Riiiiight….

          1. Not at all like that. The Obama administration is totally guilty of supporting a corrupt system, but they did not create the system. Neither did George Bush. Throwing stones at a designated fall guy makes you feel better but totally misses the point.

            1. EXACTLY!! Each iteration builds on the last, it has been snowballing for decades. R or D doesn’t matter a bit, the new boss looks like the old boss.

              All the partisan trolls can do is bicker, it is all a ruse to divide and bog down the populace, while we are ALL fleeced.

              Fundamental change and reform is in order, but few have the vision or conviction to get after it.

  1. TowerTone’s comment when it was about the EU investigation:

    “TowerTone
    Tuesday, December 6, 2011 – 11:29 am · Reply

    What does the EU know about competition?

    Well TT, What does the US know about competition?

  2. Re your comment about the EU investigation:

    Macsnob
    Tuesday, December 6, 2011 – 1:25 pm
    “This coming from an organization of countries that believe water doesn’t hydrate you”

    And this investigation comes from an organization of states that believe the world is only 5,000 years old!

    1. I also commented on that hydration post from Macsnob on Tuesday, December 6, 2011 – 1:25 pm – encouraging him to discover the truth behind facile and flippant headlines that are designed to elicit and foment anger.

      It is not difficult, with the aid of the internet to ascertain what is really going on, instead of perpetuating the lies propagated by self-serving media as they clamour for the vacuous reader’s thirty pieces of silver.

      See the facts behind the “EU, Water does not hydrate” here.

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/the-lay-scientist/2011/nov/18/1?INTCMP=SRCH

      http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/doc/1982.pdf

      It’s midnight on a wet switchback road high up in the mountains. The moon, seemingly “allegedly” lost forever behind towering, minacious thunderclouds.

      With out warning a Ford model B careers sideways around a tight and tense corner, screeching tyres frantically attempting to gain a modicum grip.

      The car “reportedly” weaving out of control, it glances off the rock wall swerves to the other side only to bounce off one of the few bits of the armco along the jagged road. disaster averted.

      Up front in the driving seats, wrestling to control the vehicle are a couple of big time losers, Salacious Rumour and joined at the hip – side kick Banal Gossip; both “apparently”drunk on apathy and “supposedly” drugged out on pessimism.

      Pumping the brake pedal only results with a foot flat to the floor … like the accelerator pedal already is!

      These two jerks are on the highway to oblivion, unfortunately though stuffed into the trunk behind them prostrate are the virtuous apostles; Facts, Responsibility and Truth; they are bound, gagged and have been beaten senseless.

      It starts raining heavily … then the headlights fail.

  3. Antitrust has nothing to do with what percentage of the market you have, only that you are talking to your competitors about what prices “should” be. Quoting Wiki, the purpose of the Sherman Act is: “To protect the consumers by preventing arrangements designed, or which tend, to advance the cost of the consumer”

    That said, I highly doubt that Apple would engage in this type of behavior in order to marginally increase what is a blip on its balance sheet. More likely trying to corral the players so the market would function more efficeintly

  4. So when Apple allows publishers to set their own price for ebooks, they get investigated.

    But when Amazon dictates publisher prices to maintain a market dominance…. crickets…..

  5. Hey el Tritoma,

    When the story was about the EU investigation a few days ago you intimated that this was proof that “they [Europeans] really don’t understand competition”.

    Well, with The U.S. Justice Department now investigating the same thing, does this mean that the US “really don’t understand competition”?

  6. When’s the last time you saw a retail (paper) bookstore have standard non sale/clearance pricing at anything other than suggest retail as list on the cover.

    I remember one chain when I live in Seattle in the early ’90’s. Other than that they all follow suggested retail.

  7. Considering Amazon’s unquestioned dominance of the ebook market, any “investigation” that focuses on Apple is nothing more than a shamefully misguided (and shamelessly ill-conveived) witch-hunt.

    On the other hand, it is outrageous that electronic books—which cost practically nothing to print, transport, warehouse and deliver—cost almost as much as printed books, whether one buys them from Amazon or Apple. Who is collecting all this extra profit, and how can they possibly be entitled to it? Can the publishers themselves possibly be innocent? Hah!

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