Comments on: Ebook Price Fixing and Bad Journalism Property - Prosperity - Peace Sat, 09 May 2015 08:06:55 +0000 hourly 1 By: Geoffrey Allan Plauché Fri, 13 Apr 2012 22:25:44 +0000 Thanks for the anecdote, Tom. You can also read comics on the Kindle Fire and other tablets. I have Marvel and DC apps powered by Comixology on my 7″ Android tablet. It’s got a higher resolution screen than most tablets that size, so most comics look just fine on it whereas you often have to zoom or use the guided reading mode in others. I don’t like Marvel and DC’s distribution model, however, with the DRM and whatnot. We’re paying too much money for less control over our copy of the comics than when we bought physical copies.

By: Geoffrey Allan Plauché Fri, 13 Apr 2012 22:17:44 +0000 Agreed, Stephan.

Also, as I mentioned in a comment on Jeffrey Tucker’s post “The Future of Books“:

The origin of the current wasteful publisher/brick-and-mortar bookstore relationship is also interesting. The strip-and-return system has its origin in the Great Depression (thanks Fed!).

Publishers wanted to encourage booksellers to buy more books and take a chance on unknown authors, so they stupidly started allowing stores to return unsold inventory for a refund. This system became entrenched and publishers became stuck producing massive print runs. The tendency to gamble on publishing and stocking potential blockbusters is tied in with this.

What the booksellers do — with paperbacks at least — is strip the covers, return those for the refund, and recycle the book bodies. Book prices factor in this waste. I think it’s something like one hardback is priced to pay for two, one paperback for three. Because so many are not sold. Sometimes, before being destroyed, a book will go back and forth between store shelves and warehouses in a purchase, return, purchase, return cycle until it is finally sold or destroyed. Lots of transportation and storage waste there in the interim.

This system has hurt small presses and indie and self-publishers because booksellers often insist on this strip-and-return policy and they often can’t afford it. And the small indie bookstores can’t afford gamble on large inventories of books and to wait on refunds on the inevitable returns. So you get that concentration of power in a relatively small number of big publishers and bookstore chains.

Thankfully, the rise of POD and ebook publishing is disrupting this wasteful, cartelizing system.

By: Tom Lehner Fri, 13 Apr 2012 14:28:14 +0000 As an anecdote, I would also add that being a recent convert to the Ebook world, I’ve found the iBook store to be lacking in selection compared to Amazon or even Barnes and Nobles. I prefer using the Kindle app on my iPad and iPhone rather than using the iBook store, and have even thought of buying a Nook just to be able to read graphic novels (comic books). Just more evidence of the market sorting things out and government regulators and “Big Books” being late to the digital party.

By: Stephan Kinsella Fri, 13 Apr 2012 13:52:19 +0000 A good overview of this issue may be found at Everything you need to know about the e-book lawsuit in one post.

Basically what is going on is a mixture of corporatism and capitalism. State interventions such as copyright and antitrust law itself gives rise to oligopolies and gatekeeper industries like the big publishing industry. Of course collusion, price fixing, etc., ought not be illegal; antitrust law should be abolished. But on the other hand, in a free market, we would expect to see fewer oligopolies anyway and thus less monopolistic abuse or price fixing in the first place. Not that we can trust the state, through the DOJ and antitrust law, to fix a problem partly caused by state policies in the first place.

The right response here is: for the state to leave this alone and let the companies involved work out whatever contractual terms they wish, whether agency model, wholesale model, or some hybrid; stop employing antitrust law against even nominally private companies; stop enacting and enforcing laws that give rise to monopoly prices and oligopolies and corporatism and crony capitalism in the first place, such as copyright law, antitrust law, pro-union legislation, minimum wage, taxation in general, inflation and the business cycle, and other business regulations. All of these laws redound to the benefit of bigger corporations who can handle the overhead and whose oligopolies are thereby entrenched, at the expense of smaller competitors and consumers in general.

As I noted in FTC: Western Digital and Hitachi must give assets and IP rights to Toshiba: Patents, Antitrust, and Competition,

As I have discussed before, the state is schizophrenic. It grants monopolies aimed at limiting competition (patents and copyright), and then penalizes companies for using (“abusing”) them, in contravention of state antitrust law–so that there is a “tension” between these state laws. Then courts have to “balance” these against each other. Each state law gives the state an excuse to ratchet up its power. Here’s an idea: get rid of both antitrust and patent law. (See EU newsflash: patents are anticompetitive!; State Antitrust (anti-monopoly) law versus state IP (pro-monopoly) law; The Schizo Feds: Patent Monopolies and the FTC; see also When Antitrust and Patents Collide (Rambus v. FTC); Antitrust vs. Trademark Law; Price Controls, Antitrust, and Patents; IP vs. Antitrust; The Schizophrenic State; Intel v. AMD: More patent and antitrust waste.)

(Likewise, there is also a “tension” between copyright censorship, and the right to free speech.) (Should Copyright Be Allowed to Override Speech Rights?)