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Random House and the DOJ’s Attack on Agency

04.13.2012, Uncategorized, by .

Widely reported over the past few days that the Dept of Justice has filed collusion between Apple and the ‘Agency 5’ to fix the price of eBooks.

Agency 5 = Penguin; Simon & Schuster; Hachette; HarperCollins: Macmillan.

Big 6 = Add Random House.

Many feel Amazon is the big winner here because they will be able to price eBooks as they want. Amazon has been very vocal that they want lower prices. This suit gives them that ability. Three publishers have already settled.

Why was Random House excluded? When Apple introduced the iPad; Random House was not in the iBookstore. They continued to sell at Wholesale. They also charged a premium for their eBooks (was it at the same price at the hardcover?) and Amazon took the loss. Millions of copies of Steig Larssen made RH millions. It was smart of them to hold out. Notice how Scholastic has sold millions of HUNGER GAMES without Agency and Apple?

A year later, Random House went Agency. They now have control over the prices on their books. They have some amazing content too. Plus, RH is the biggest of the ‘misnamed Big 6.’ RH rolled with the iPad 2.

Now the DOJ is not only costing mindshare and attorneys for the Agency 5, but those publishers have lost Agency. They need to re-adapt. But RH can keep Agency. So, does that give them a competitive advantage over the others? Those publishers dearly want to hold onto it. Two are willing to fight – Macmillan and Penguin. But if this is over control over pricing… then RH is in a good place while this gets sorted out.

Amazon won.

Random House won.

At least today, publishing is a roller coaster, tomorrow there may be different winners.

Publishing used to be so mellow… The world has changed.

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