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Old 03-02-2011, 02:11 PM   #1
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EU watchdogs descend on French publishers suspected of collusion to fix ebook prices

On Monday, teams of investigators from the European Commission descended on the offices of the major French publishers, including Hachette, Gallimard, Flammarion and others, around 10:30 am to look through their computers and other IT gear to check for evidence of collusion to fix prices for e-books.
France is on the verge of passing legislation to establish the one price rule for e-books (paper books in France can be discounted to a maximum of only 5%), and to require that foreign sites selling their books on the French market adhere to the same rules.
It would seem that this is running counter to the European legislation on free competition and Brussels is not happy.
For the original story (in French) here is the link.
http://www.01net.com/editorial/52918...-les-prix-maj/
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Old 03-02-2011, 02:15 PM   #2
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Not just the French ones: http://www.mobileread.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=123833
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Old 03-02-2011, 11:27 PM   #3
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Bookseller has some more info: http://www.thebookseller.com/news/eu...ce-fixing.html

If you expect the publishers to get railed, I wouldn't get your hopes up over this.

• The French Competition Authority already cleared the publishers.
• Lang Laws in France and similar laws throughout the EU require that publisher set prices, and retailers can't discount more than 5% (as Polyglot pointed out).

I don't expect this will amount to much, especially once the Lang Laws et al get extended to ebooks.
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Old 03-03-2011, 12:12 AM   #4
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The headline made me think, "Book pirates?" Then I read price fixing and thought, who doesn't fix their prices these days??
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Old 03-03-2011, 03:26 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Kali Yuga View Post
The French Competition Authority already cleared the publishers.
Good thing this is an investigation be the EU commission, isn't it.

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Lang Laws in France and similar laws throughout the EU require that publisher set prices, and retailers can't discount more than 5%
That's not what this is about. The current investigation seems to have been triggered by Amazon who complained that the French publishers were uniformly asking the same prices for their ebooks. Smacks of a cartel alright.
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Old 03-03-2011, 05:18 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Kali Yuga View Post
• Lang Laws in France and similar laws throughout the EU require that publisher set prices, and retailers can't discount more than 5% (as Polyglot pointed out).
Any one publisher can set a price for their own books. If all the publishers get together and set a price for all their books, that is a cartel.

[Definition of a Cartel. A cartel occurs when 2 or more firms enter into agreements to restrict the supply or fix the price of a good in a particular industry.]
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Old 03-03-2011, 05:38 AM   #7
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What about the pirate cartel and their set price of zero?
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Old 03-03-2011, 09:48 AM   #8
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What about the pirate cartel and their set price of zero?
I'm not sure what useful response you are expecting?
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Old 03-03-2011, 09:53 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by rogue_librarian View Post
Good thing this is an investigation be the EU commission, isn't it.
Sure, if they wind up looking at similar or the same evidence and draw the same conclusion.

Oh, wait, to you it's good if they get busted. (Even though publishers setting prices are apparently mandated by law in most of the EU.) Never mind.


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Originally Posted by rogue_librarian
That's not what this is about. The current investigation seems to have been triggered by Amazon who complained that the French publishers were uniformly asking the same prices for their ebooks. Smacks of a cartel alright.
What's your source for this, or is this just your opinion? The Commission hasn't said anything specific, let alone anything along these lines.
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Old 03-03-2011, 11:07 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Kali Yuga View Post
Oh, wait, to you it's good if they get busted.
Yes, obviously. No cartel ever benefited the consumer, so I'm happy if such collusion is put to an end.

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(Even though publishers setting prices are apparently mandated by law in most of the EU.)
First, just because a member state has a certain law on the books doesn't mean that this is in line with EU law in general. The European Court of Justice abrogates such laws many times a year. Secondly, this is not, as I've said, what this seems to be all about:

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What's your source for this, or is this just your opinion? The Commission hasn't said anything specific, let alone anything along these lines.
There are other sources. What about the WSJ? Or here.

That said, let's just apply common sense here for a second: if the only wrongdoing the Commission suspected was adhering to a country's book price fixing laws they certainly wouldn't need to raid publishers' offices at the break of dawn (OK, 10.30 a.m., but still) to ascertain that?

It's a collusion between publishers they're after, like the French Big Six equivalent getting together and saying, "look, about this newfangled ebook thing, nobody sell below € 13.99 a pop, mkay?" And yes, you better believe that it's chiefly Amazon on the other side, none too happy about such a cartel. (I suppose they only like monopolies of one. But I digress.)
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Old 03-03-2011, 12:30 PM   #11
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Hmm, very interesting. It has an almost high speed feel to it all, but I imagine it is a rather slow process and I can't imagine the impact will be very loud (although you never know. Well, some people feel they have the inside track on ALL things here on Mobile Read but I certainly don't and I would be ashamed to pretend that I do).
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Old 03-03-2011, 02:15 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by rogue_librarian View Post
Yes, obviously. No cartel ever benefited the consumer, so I'm happy if such collusion is put to an end.
I agree, and if they actually did meet in a smoky room and decide "all best sellers will be €10" then yes, they should be held accountable.

But so far there is no evidence of that kind of collusion. Sorry to tell you that a bad taste over agency pricing does not prove that the publishers are coordinating in secret.


Quote:
Originally Posted by rogue_librarian
There are other sources. What about the WSJ? Or here.
My question to you on this point was much more specific. I have no doubts that the investigation is ongoing, as should have been indicated by my post. It sounded like you were citing facts rather than expressing an opinion, so I asked for the source.


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Originally Posted by rogue_librarian
That said, let's just apply common sense here for a second: if the only wrongdoing the Commission suspected was adhering to a country's book price fixing laws they certainly wouldn't need to raid publishers' offices at the break of dawn (OK, 10.30 a.m., but still) to ascertain that?
Again, the Commission explicitly states that they do not yet have any evidence of wrongdoing (yet).

Assuming that the subjects of the investigation are all guilty is not "common sense," it is "jumping to a conclusion." You should at least settle for "innocent until specific evidence is cited."
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