Skip to main content

Apple responds to DoJ e-book lawsuit: We did nothing wrong

gallery-software-ibooks-20100127
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Two days after the U.S. Department of Justice filed antitrust lawsuits against Apple and five of the largest publishers in the country for allegedly colluding to fix the price of e-books, the electronics giant has responded to the government’s actions, say it did nothing wrong. Apple’s defense echos that of Macmillan and Penguin, both of which have decided to fight the suit in court. The three remaining publishers — Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster — all agreed to settle out of court, almost immediately after the Justice Department filed the suit.

“The DOJ’s accusation of collusion against Apple is simply not true,” said Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr, via AllThingsD. “The launch of the iBookstore in 2010 fostered innovation and competition, breaking Amazon’s monopolistic grip on the publishing industry. Since then customers have benefited from e-books that are more interactive and engaging. Just as we’ve allowed developers to set prices on the App Store, publishers set prices on the iBookstore.”

There are a number of interesting points in this statement that should be highlighted. First, Apple says that the launch of iBookstore broke Amazon’s “monopolistic grip on the publishing industry.” This is notable because it is precisely the way the publishing industry sees the situation. Prior to the launch of the iBookstore, Amazon (and other booksellers) was able to set the price of e-books at whatever it wanted it to be. Turns out that price was extremely low, so low that nobody else could compete, which effectively made Amazon and its Kindle e-reader the dominant seller of e-books. When iBookstore launched, the publishing industry found a partner to help it switch to an “agency model” of pricing, which allows the publisher — not Amazon, or anyone else — to set the price.

It is also notable because of the word “monopolistic.” Most of the time, monopolies use their dominant power in the market to raise prices for consumers. Amazon did the opposite — it drastically lowered prices as a way to control the market. Technically, that does not make Amazon a monopoly, even if it means others cannot compete, because consumers are not being harmed by low prices.

Second, Apple says that “customers have benefited from e-books that are more interactive and engaging” thanks to the launch of iBookstore. This is key because the DoJ’s argument is that customers were forced to pay millions of dollars more than they should have for e-books as a result of iBookstore and the switch to the agency pricing model. What Apple’s presumably trying to say here is that they did not overpay for e-books because the product they received was of a higher quality, and thus justifies the higher price tag.

So, how will this play out? For starters, Amazon will now be able to offer books from the three publishers that agreed to settle at whatever price it wants again. Also, Barnes & Noble will probably die eventually. The company has already lost a significant portion of its market value in just a few days, as a result of the settlements.

As far as Apple, Macmillan, and Penguin go, there’s a good chance they could win this fight. But because their side has already splintered, the damage (or improvement, depending on how you want to look at it) has already been done.

Andrew Couts
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Features Editor for Digital Trends, Andrew Couts covers a wide swath of consumer technology topics, with particular focus on…
Best iPad deals: Save on iPad Air, iPad Pro, iPad Mini for the New Year
iPad Pro 2020 Screen.

There's a tablet out there for almost everyone, with designs available to accommodate anything from kids to creative professionals. The Apple iPad is one of the most popular tablet lineups, with the best iPads offering a wide range of options and capabilities. If you’re in the market for a new iPad, there are some great iPad deals worth shopping right now. In fact, not only are iPads some of the best Apple deals currently taking place, but some of the best tablet deals as well. We’ve rounded up what we feel are the best tablet deals to shop at the moment. They include iPads, iPad cases and covers, and iPad accessories, so read onward for more details.
Apple iPad 10.2 (9th Gen) 64GB Wi-Fi -- $249, was $329

Apple's A13 Bionic chip is no M1 or M2, but it still offers 64-bit architecture and neural engine support for excellent performance. In other words, this 10.2-inch iPad is incredible value. It has a 10.2-inch Retina display, 64GB of storage, supports Touch ID and Apple Pencil (1st Gen), and it's size, plus all-day battery life make it an excellent choice for anyone with an on-the-go lifestyle.

Read more
Best iPhone 15 deals: How to get Apple’s latest iPhone for free
The display on a green iPhone 15.

The iPhone 15 is Apple’s current flagship phone, and it’s also one of its most popular phones. It’s come storming out of the gate since its release and has skyrocketed to make our ranks of the best phones. Its popularity can make it difficult to find iPhone 15 deals, but there are some out there. We’ve rounded up the best iPhone 15 deals going on right now, and while most of them entail trading in a device for savings, trade-in value is very high and could land you a free iPhone 15 if you’re trading in the right device. We’ve got all of those details below, so read onward and start saving on a new Apple iPhone 15.
Today's best iPhone 15 deals

: Get up to $830 in savings when you trade in a similar device. Also included is 3 free months of Apple TV+, Apple Fitness+, Apple Music, and 4 free months of Apple Arcade.
: Save up to $830 with device trade-in and inclusion of Verizon Unlimited Plus or Unlimited Ultimate plans.
: Save up to $830 via 24 monthly bill credits when you add a line on a qualifying plan and trade in an eligible device.
: Save up to $700 when you trade in an eligible device and commit to an AT&T Unlimited plan of more than $76 per month.

Read more
Best smartwatch deals: Samsung, Google, Apple, Fitbit, and Garmin
The Nike Globe watch face on the Apple Watch Series 9.

A smartwatch makes a great accessory whether you plan to use it for some style or in place of one of the best fitness trackers. Most have impressive capabilities for fitness enthusiasts, and if you make your way up to some of the best smartwatches you’ll even find features that can rival what you’ll find in phones. And while all of this may sound like it puts a new smartwatch into high price ranges, there are actually a lot of great smartwatch deals taking place right now. We’ve rounded up all of the best smartwatch deals, and they include models from brands like Garmin, Samsung, Apple, and Fitbit. So whether you’re looking for a smartwatch to pair with your Apple devices or a smartwatch powered by Android, read onward for more details on how to save.
Garmin Venu Sq -- $189, was $200

The Garmin Venu Sq smartwatch is a great option for anyone in search of a smartwatch that crosses over between a fitness device and a fashion accessory. It features the broadest range of all-day health monitoring features, which include things like energy level monitoring, respiration and stress tracking, and sleep tracking. You can easily download songs to the Garmin Venu, including playlists from Spotify, Amazon Music or Deezer, as well as other third-party music providers. The Garmin Venu makes great accompaniment when you’re deep into a workout, and its classy, luxurious design looks great when you’re out on the town.

Read more