And now, here’s a second lawsuit against book publishers over e-books

kindleLast month, the “big six” book publishers – Hachette, Holtzbrinck, Penguin, Harper Collins, Random House, and Simon & Shuster – managed to extricate themselves from a lawsuit over allegations of conspiring with Apple to price fix its eBook releases. Now, they’ve found themselves faced by another lawsuit over the possibility that their digital practices broke anti-trust laws. This time, the lawsuit may end up changing the eBook market in unexpected ways.

The New York Times has a report about a lawsuit filed at the end of last week in Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York by three small bookstores claiming that they were being forced out of the digital market by an agreement between the large publishers and, ironically, Amazon – the company that the earlier anti-trust-breaching agreement was reportedly designed to hurt. The complaint argues that the existing agreements between the publishers and Amazon – agreements that will have to be replaced as a result of the publishers’ settlements with the Department of Justice – “unreasonably restrain trade and commerce in the market of e-books sold within the United States.”

According to the Times report, the lawsuit’s argument revolves around the somewhat nebulous idea that the publishers in question have all entered into a secret agreement with Amazon that requires them to code their eBooks in a way that make them only readable on Kindles or devices with Kindle apps. The method, the small stores argue, unfairly trains the eBook audience to conflate digital publishing with Amazon and the Kindle specifically. While this is clearly true for Kindle editions of the digital releases, it’s blatantly untrue of, say, Apple iBooks editions of the same titles or other digital editions, which makes the complaint somewhat confusing.

The lawsuit argues that the publishers should instead offer their eBooks with open-source coding that makes them readable on any device using any software, pointing to Apple eventually moving to offer music free of Digital Rights Management-software after a series of legal challenges. That comparison feels false, however; surely the more appropriate Apple analogy would be the fact that it offers iTunes downloads as mp4 files locked to Apple devices instead of mp3s playable on other devices. The legal action seeks an immediate injunction to the practice, as well as damages resulting from the estimated lost sales it may have induced.

Presuming that this lawsuit isn’t immediately dismissed by the court, especially in light of the new agreements required by the DOJ settlements each of the publishers have agreed to, it’ll be interesting to see what effect this will have on eBooks and the digital market on the whole. The aim is clearly to open the market up to more retailers, but it’s not unimaginable that a legal order to remove DRM from eBooks may change publishers’ attitudes towards the format for fear of accidentally facilitating piracy with every new release.

The three booksellers behind the suit – Posman Books, the Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, and Fiction Addiction – report that the lawsuit is a class action filed on behalf of other independent booksellers in addition to themselves. In response to the lawsuit, Amazon says, as matter of company policy, it will not comment on ongoing litigation.

Product Review

Lenovo’s Smart Clock with Google Assistant may be the perfect bedside companion

Move over Amazon Echo Spot: Lenovo’s Smart Clock With Google Assistant is coming for you. At just $79, the Smart Clock turns off the camera and turns up the cuteness factor for an enhanced alarm clock experience.
Home Theater

What’s new on Amazon Prime Video (February 2019)

Amazon Prime Video adds new titles each month that are available for free to all Prime members. Check out our list to find all the content hitting Amazon Prime Video in January and February, from new original series to classic films.
Deals

Amazon drops prices on Roomba robot vacuums by up to $150

Amazon is offering discounts on iRobot Roombas and other robot vacuums to help you get a leg-up on those chores. We've rounded up the best deals available now and put them all in one place.
Business

Cathay Pacific messes up first-class ticket prices — again

A couple of weeks ago, an error on Cathay Pacific's website resulted in first-class seats selling for a tenth of the price. On Sunday, January 13, the airline made the error again. The good news is that it'll honor the bookings.
Smart Home

This Silicon Valley studio rents for $1,500 per month — to 2 cats

A man in San Jose, California, rents a studio apartment for $1,500 per month for a very important reason: So his daughter's two cats have a place to call their own. It may be the swankiest cat pad on the West Coast.
Smart Home

Speed up cooking with one of the best pressure cookers on the market

Not all pressure cookers are created equally. You have to choose between stovetop cookers, multicookers, canners, and even microwave cookers. Our pressure cooking buyer's guide includes our picks for the best in each category.
Emerging Tech

CES 2019 recap: All the trends, products, and gadgets you missed

CES 2019 didn’t just give us a taste of the future, it offered a five-course meal. From 8K and Micro LED televisions to smart toilets, the show delivered with all the amazing gadgetry you could ask for. Here’s a look at all the big…
Smart Home

Brew it fast, hot, and flavorful with our favorite coffee makers

Whether you're looking for a simple coffee maker to get you through the morning or a high-end brewer that will impress your taste buds and your friends, you'll find some of the best coffee makers around on this list.
Smart Home

This just in: Alexa can now deliver the news like a professional newscaster

The Amazon Alexa team has given Alexa a newscaster voice that improves the way she delivers the news and reads Wikipedia articles, making the smart assistant easier to understand.
Product Review

Ring Video Doorbell 2 is the simplest entry into a smarter doorway

The Ring Video Doorbell 2 may lack the style and sophistication of premium door-dingers, but few can match its simplicity and versatility. The device, available in both wired and wireless configurations, is easy to set up and adds instant…
Smart Home

Ring security camera catches man licking the doorbell for hours

A family in Salinas, California had their Ring camera capture something pretty unexpected: a man licking the doorbell outside of their home for more than three hours. The incident took place around 5:00 a.m.
Smart Home

GHSP makes a (back)splash with its touchscreen concept kitchen

One of the coolest concept kitchens from CES 2019 came from GHSP. It created a backsplash entirely made of touchscreens. That means the control panel for your kitchen is accessible no matter where you are.
Product Review

Kwikset Kevo Contemporary review

Tired of carrying around keys? Make keyless entry so easy that all you have to do is have your phone nearby to open the door. It’s a little pricey, but sleek lines and simple features make the Kwikset Kevo Contemporary a great choice for…
Smart Home

Airbnb says sorry to guest for how it dealt with undisclosed security camera

An Airbnb guest recently found a surveillance camera in his rental apartment that hadn't been properly disclosed in the listing. The firm admits its initial response to the guest's complaint was poor, but has since made amends.