Two years ago, when the major publishing houses got together with Apple and conspired to fix e-book prices, they did so not because Apple was sexy and Steve Jobs was a benevolent god and the iPad was about to launch, but because Amazon was the devil.
Somehow, in the intervening era of Apple-mania, that narrative has been skewed. But that skewing is about to snap back with a vengeance:
The government’s decision to pursue major publishers on antitrust charges has put the Internet retailer Amazon in a powerful position: the nation’s largest bookseller may now get to decide how much an e-book will cost, and the book world is quaking over the potential consequences.
This is, in fact, exactly what drove the publishing industry en-mass into Apple’s price-fixing arms two years ago. Because if Amazon can sell e-books at prices below what the publishing industry sets — as a loss leader for the Kindle, or simply as a way to stab the publishing industry in the heart until it begs for mercy — the publishing industry effectively loses control of its product. And that’s the last thing quarterly shareholders want to hear.
— Mark Barrett