An Open Letter to the DOJ from Someone Who Actually Cares About Writers (and Readers) Publishing

The leading literary agents’ organization – the Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR) – penned an open letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) opposing the terms of the settlement reached with three of the publishers named in the Agency price-fixing suit. I won’t go into the details of how wrongheaded that letter was. It has already been systematically taken apart by Joe Konrath, Bob Mayer, and Dean Wesley Smith. Also worth reading are Joe Konrath’s subsequent dismantling of another open letter to the DOJ written by Simon Lipskar (a board member of the AAR), as well as the comments made by Passive Guy on the same topic. If you have any doubt whose side (most) agents and the AAR are Read More…

Don't Be Fooled: Big Publishing Hates Competition

The reaction to the filing of the DoJ’s antitrust suit was laughable, if somewhat predictable. Among other things, the DoJ has been accused of working for Amazon – helping them to “destroy the publishing industry.” If you want to sample the mindset I’m referring to, simply visit the comments of any article on the matter in the trade press – such as this or this (although this vocal group are strangely absent from articles such as this one describing publishers’ (alleged!) attempts to cover up their actions by deleting emails). I’m not sure when “the publishing industry” become exclusively synonymous with the largest publishers. I’m not sure when their narrow interests became everyone’s interests, because what’s good for Penguin isn’t Read More…

Don’t Be Fooled: Big Publishing Hates Competition

The reaction to the filing of the DoJ’s antitrust suit was laughable, if somewhat predictable. Among other things, the DoJ has been accused of working for Amazon – helping them to “destroy the publishing industry.” If you want to sample the mindset I’m referring to, simply visit the comments of any article on the matter in the trade press – such as this or this (although this vocal group are strangely absent from articles such as this one describing publishers’ (alleged!) attempts to cover up their actions by deleting emails). I’m not sure when “the publishing industry” become exclusively synonymous with the largest publishers. I’m not sure when their narrow interests became everyone’s interests, because what’s good for Penguin isn’t Read More…

How The Agency Model Led To An Antitrust Suit

As reported yesterday, the Department of Justice has filed its antitrust lawsuit against Apple and five of the largest publishers (Macmillan, Penguin, HarperCollins, Hachette, and Simon & Schuster). A settlement has been agreed with HarperCollins, Hachette, and Simon & Schuster; Macmillan claimed the terms were too onerous, and Penguin appears to have refused to contemplate settling. The agreed settlement must still be approved by the court, but among the conditions are the end of Agency (despite the attempted spin by PW in the above-linked article) and the return of pricing control to the retailers (such as Amazon). In addition, the settling parties will be monitored by the DoJ, who must be copied on any communications surrounding this or any related Read More…