The price of ebooks has always been something that has confused us quite a bit here at Click. We fully appreciate that digital distribution prices haven't quite lived up to expectations, but the fact that it can cost as much for a digital version of a new book as it does for the hard copy is simply baffling. Books aren't the cheapest things in the world to print, so one would assume that the cost of digital versions should be a hell of a lot cheaper than the physicl product.
Alas this has simply never been the case, and according to the United States Justice Department, this is down to collusion to fix prices among a number of companies, namely Apple, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, Penguin and Hatchette SA. The case was filed in New York District Court earlier today, and already it would appear that Simon & Schuster, Hatchette SA and HarperCollins have settled their suits.
Apple and Macmillan, on the other hand, are said to be refusing point blank to enter into settlement negotiations. Penguin has also gone on record to say that it is willing to fight the anti-trust lawsuit in courts if needs be.
Rather than letting retailers set prices, as used to be the case, these companies are claiming that they should be able to stick to a publisher defined book pricing model - one which has arguably been the cause of the sky high ebook prices.
Ultimately, books are going to go digital, and it's something that publishers need to accept and embrace rather than fight, but until they do this, it's unlikely we're going to see competitive prices for digitally distributed publications - something which is simply going to drive an ever increasing number of ebook readers towards ilegitimate sources for their reading material, which nobody wants to see.