updated 08:05 am EDT, Thu April 12, 2012
ACCC asking for concerns over e-book fairness
The Australia Competition and Consumer Commission is considering taking the same path that the US Department of Justice did in confronting Apple and publishers over e-book pricing. Regulators have been asking Australian retailers whether they thought publishers were rigging pricing in the country. There were "competition concerns" whenever a company wanted to curb the ability to put a product on sale, the agency said.
ACCC officials wouldn't say whether there was a full investigation underway, or whether the agency was inclined to pursue any legal action. It had been kept up to date on the DOJ actions.
Investigations have already been going on outside of the US, including a UK investigation that has also included Amazon. A common thread of concern exists that Apple's emphasis on the agency model, where publishers set the price, and a no-lower-price clause have artificially inflated prices from a typical $10 to $13 or $15.
Apple has denied damaging competition and has argued that the iBookstore ultimately helped balance the market. Amazon had roughly 90 percent of e-book share before the iPad arrived and, along between Apple's tablet and Barnes & Noble's Nook, is now closer to 60 percent. Publishers haven't had as strong an argument, although they have noted that Amazon was regularly selling e-books in the Kindle Store below cost, creating artificial expectations for how much a title should cost. [via Financial Review]