Authors and booksellers call for overturn of ebook ruling against Apple

A group of authors and booksellers have filed a motion in the US asking for the Supreme Court’s decision against Apple's role in a 2010 conspiracy to fix the price of e-books to be overturned, reports The Bookseller.

In July, a court judgement found that “Apple orchestrated a conspiracy among the publishers to raise e-book prices” by conspiring with publishers to fix the price of e-books. However, the Authors Guild, along with Authors United, the group led by author Douglas Preston, the American Booksellers Association, and Barnes & Noble filed an "amicus brief" in the US which asserts that the government’s focus on Apple’s “allegedly anti-competitive activities" was “misplaced,” according to Publishers Weekly.

“Apple’s conduct, in fact, enhanced competition by increasing e-book output, the number of e-book titles, and the number of e-book distributors, which led to technological improvements in the e-book market and enhanced freedom of expression and access to e-books,” the Guild said in a statement.

“We authors feel strongly that diversity, competition, and the free flow of ideas are key to a healthy marketplace of books,” Douglas Preston, founder of Authors United, said in the statement. “The numbers unequivocally show that Apple’s entry into the e-book market increased competition and gave authors and publishers greater choice in how content was delivered to the reading public.”

“Booksellers firmly believe in the importance of competition, a robust and diverse environment for authors and readers, and a healthy marketplace of ideas. We believe Apple's participation in the e-books market strengthened all those goals, and the American Booksellers Association is pleased to join with our friends and colleagues at the Authors Guild, Authors United, and Barnes & Noble to support this matter,” added Oren J. Teicher, CEO of the American Booksellers Association.

The brief also cites the well-documented 2014 dispute between Amazon and publisher Hachette regarding e-book pricing as particularly instructive of Amazon’s continued danger to an open publishing marketplace. When contract negotiations reached a standstill, Amazon removed pre-order buttons from the point of purchase page for Hachette’s book titles, creating a “disastrous” effect for authors about to publish books.

In concluding their brief, the groups support Apple’s request for Supreme Court review by noting that, “Increased competition among authors to write e-books, publishers to price them, and retailers to sell them has been good for readers and good for American democracy, which is rooted in broad access to culture and a vibrant marketplace of ideas.”