eBook Price Fixing concern

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Kindle

I have written a letter to the OFT, Tom Watson MP, my local MP John Spellar and influential journalist and author Cory Doctorow about the new price fixing occuring in the book business. I have included this below.


Dear Sir/Madam,
In August 1994, The Office of Fair Trading successfully applied to the Restrictive Practices Court to end what was known as the “Net Book Agreement”. Under this agreement, book sales and retail pricing figures were set by the publisher, rather than the retailer and allowed the publishing industry to essentially price-fix books as they saw fit. the OFT took the agreement to the Restrictive Practices Court, and in 1997 they ruled it illegal. This ended the practice of publishers setting the minimum price that a book could be sold at retail, and left the practice of price setting only up to the retailer.

This week, Amazon have been forced to fix the prices of their electronic book store under an agreement that the publishers call the “agency model”. Up until this week, only Apple were operating under this pricing structure in the UK with their iBooks platform. Unfortunately Amazon have now been forced to accept this model or to no longer continue selling the books to the public. This has forced the prices up, with books now being tagged on Amazon as “This Price was set by the Publisher”. This publisher based price setting has not only increased the prices at Amazon but has fixed the prices across platforms (Apple’s iBooks, Amazon’s Kindle), and stopped Apple, Amazon and other companies being able to price products they are selling as they see fit. The prices have also increased beyond the prices of their hardback equivalents, which is going to do nothing but encourage the piracy of the digital content, rather than encourage strong positive sales. In a world where we are being asked to become more energy efficient and better protect the environment I find it disgusting that my investment in electronic books in order to be a better, more environmental citizen has been punished by the greed of the publishers deciding to price fix electronic book mediums to suit their pricing desires instead of allowing retailers the freedom to be able to price goods as they see fit.

I implore you please, to do anything you can with your powers, influence and/or ability to raise this issue wherever you can, and to help stop this incredibly anti-competitive practice, which is nothing but damaging to the consumer.

My kindest regards,
Paul Kerton

This email has been sent to the following:
Tom Watson MP, The Office of Fair Trading, John Spellar MP (via his Westminster Office Secretary) , Cory Doctorow


About plkrtn
Lostpedia SysOp, blogger, occasional writer for TVOvermind and consumer technology geek.

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