E-books: Will Apple, publishers settle in price-fixing case? Plus the state of e-reading

Updates to the never-ending e-books story:

• Will there be a settlement in the e-book price-fixing investigations by the United States and Europe? The Wall Street Journal reports, citing unnamed sources, that Apple and two of the five book publishers involved appear to be holding out. The investigations center on the “agency pricing” model that has become common in e-books: publishers set prices and retailers such as Apple sell the e-books and take a cut. As we mentioned on GMSV last month when news of a U.S. probe broke, the agency model has mostly raised consumers’ prices. Today’s WSJ piece says the publishers balking at a settlement may be doing so because they would probably have to allow Amazon.com to go back to discounting e-books.

Worth a read is Wired’s Tim Carmody‘s take on all this. He recently wrote that the case is bigger than agency pricing, and asks if “it’s even possible for a true agency model to exist for virtual goods like e-books.”

• Meanwhile, in the print-is-dead, long-live-print department: Pew released a report Wednesday on the state of e-reading. Some of the takeaways: A fifth of Americans have read an e-book in the past year. E-book readers read more than other readers, and are now spending more time reading. But they aren’t just reading e-books, they also read paper books. Also key: People like to buy books, with e-reader owners preferring to buy rather than borrow (of course, e-book borrowing isn’t easy, but that’s a post for another time) more than print readers do (61 percent vs. 54 percent). Where the reading action is: Forty-two percent read e-books on computers, 41 percent on e-readers, 29 percent on cell phones and 23 percent on tablets. (Some are reading on more than one device.) Of e-reader owners, 62 percent own an Amazon Kindle, 22 percent own Barnes & Noble’s Nook.


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  • michael rose

    when everyone else will be reading e-books, observant jews will stay with print. U cannot operate a computer or e-book reader on the Sabbath.