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Industry News: Apple loses, Fall-out from Rowling’s secret book, potential trouble for Miami-Dade libraries

July 20, 2013

Apple Loses e-Book Price Fixing Case

Judge Denise Cote has ruled against Apple in the price fixing case in which five of the Big Six publishers were charged with colluding with Apple to force the agency pricing model for e-books. Cote ruled that Apple encouraged the publishers to “work together to eliminate retail price competition and raise e-book prices.” The ruling means that Apple is liable for damages in the lawsuit brought by the Department of Justice. Judge Cote rejected all three of Apple’s main arguments against the suit, indicating that although Amazon may have engaged in predatory business practices, that did not justify collusion. Even Steve Jobs own words were used by Cote in the ruling. Judge Cote will now move forward with the process to determine awards for the lawsuit, as well as state and consumer suits. Apple is expected to appeal.

What this means to you: If you bought e-books you may get a small settlement from this ruling. But the ruling does not necessarily mean that the price of e-books will necessarily drop. Amazon can determine whether it wishes to sell e-books at a loss, but that’s been the case since publishers settled over the past several months, and e-book prices haven’t dropped to previous levels. Overall, this case means that Amazon’s primacy is cemented. But Amazon could face a suit of its own based on some of its practices, as well.

Rowling’s Secret Book Cause for Concern for Authors?

According to one analysis, the sudden success of JK Rowling’s pseudonymously published mystery The Cuckoo’s Calling is just cause for depression for authors. The reasoning goes that only 1500 copies of the book were sold (since April) when the author was thought to be former British military special investigator–in spite of positive reviews. Sales increased by a robust 500,000 percent on Amazon since Rowling was revealed as the author. As noted here yesterday by the pseudonymously named Frank Barone, Rowling’s work was even rejected by a few publishers who didn’t know who Galbreath really was. This is supposed to be depressing because a great book doesn’t necessarily generate publication or sales.

What this means to you: If you’ve been paying attention, absolutely none of this should be a surprise. Publishing is an industry and while Rowling’s name is a license to print money, Robert Galbreath’s name isn’t–or wasn’t. You have to write the best book you can write, find the right agent, publisher, or way to publicize your own work, and hope to catch lightning in a bottle. JK Rowling has already caught it, dozens of times over. And just because an publisher rejects a book doesn’t mean it’s bad; it could mean that’s not the right book for them. Far from depression, this is all just a confirmation of how the world works.

Miami-Dade Libraries in Jeopardy

As many as 45% of Miami-Dade County’s public libraries could be shut down after the county commission voted not to raise property taxes this week. According to the Miami Herald, the commission voted 8-4 against the increase. Mayor Carlos Jimenez has said his administration will try to minimize the cuts between now and September, when public hearings on the cuts occur. As many as 22 of the county’s 49 libraries could be shut down.

What this means to you: Libraries are under pressure in general because of limited appetites for tax increases. FWA does not take a position on political issues, but both sides are defensible. Libraries are a vital part of our cultural structure, but with the words “jobless recovery” a regular part of the newscycle, it’s hard to get the tax increases required to maintain current levels of service. In the meantime, libraries may increase previous efforts (like selling books) to increase revenue on their own.

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