Are Apple Inc. (AAPL) and the big trade publishers colluding to manipulate the market in electronic books?
No, says Scott Turow, president of the Authors Guild. We host him at Live Talks Business on June 22nd for breakfast to discuss this and other challenges in the world of book publishing. He’ll be in conversation with Carolyn Kellogg of the Los Angeles Times’ Jacket Copy blog about all things books.
Scott Turow observes this from two perches: As the writer of bestsellers, including Presumed Innocent, Innocent, One L, and Ultimate Punishment. And, as the current president of The Authors Guild, the leading advocate for writers’ interests.
Here’s an excerpt from an Op-Ed piece in Bloomberg this week on the issue by Turow…
The Justice Department has been investigating whether the publishers colluded in adopting, for the sale of e-books, the same “agency model” pioneered by Apple in selling iTunes. Under that setup, Apple acts as the publishers’ sales agent, taking a cut (usually 30 percent) and leaving it to publishers to set the prices of the e-books they publish.
I have no way of knowing whether the publishers colluded. My friends in publishing insist that price was never part of the discussions, but the Justice Department prosecutors seem to think they have a compelling case. All I can say as an author — and as president of the Authors Guild, the nation’s largest membership organization of professional book writers — is that if the government wants to intervene in the literary marketplace, I hope it will consider the complex ecology of bookselling in the U.S.
The video from the Scott Turow event with Dustin Hoffman is online.
Scott Turow whom we hosted this past June discussing his new book, Innocent, is quite familiar with ethics matters in Illinois. He served on on the state’s ethics commission for several years. Interesting commentary on the Blogojevich verdict and campaign finance laws by Turow in the ….
“…the unwillingness of one or more jurors to convict Mr. Blagojevich of anything but bare-faced lying makes some sense. I suspect the jury’s indecision might have been a reaction at some level to the hypocritical mess our campaign financing system has become, especially in light of recent Supreme Court jurisprudence about political donations.”
On campaign finance laws, he adds:
“…the Constitutional amendment this nation most urgently requires is one that reverses the notion that unrestricted political spending deserves protection as free speech. Without that, who could fault a juror for looking around at contemporary political life and feeling that Rod Blagojevich had been unfairly singled out?”
Turow reviews Adam Ross’ first novel, Mr. Peanut, on the cover of the New York Times Book Review. For those wondering how much lawyering Turow still does, the Up Front piece in the Book Review has this:
“Despite his success as a novelist, Turow has never given up his day job as an attorney. “I spend more time writing than lawyering,” he said, “but yes, I still appear in court now and then. I have practiced criminal law in Chicago for more than 30 years; it’s a relatively small bar and we all know (or know of) one another, so nobody appears overawed when I show up. I argued an important motion to dismiss an indictment along with one of my partners a couple of months ago. The assistant attorney general on the other side praised my novels privately and then, as he should have, did his best to beat my brains in during argument.”
Just a reminder that there are tickets still available to see Dustin Hoffman interview Scott Turow on Monday evening at Zipper Hall at The Colburn School. Remember, net proceeds from all of our events support worthwhile causes in Los Angeles promoting education, literacy and reading. The Turow/Hoffman event supports the wonderful work of 826LA. Thank you for joining us in supporting their work. *UPDATE: The Los Angeles Downtown News has our event as the number one event on their “Don’t Miss” list of events for this week.