It took a little longer than I thought, but the craziness of agency pricing has finally hit the litigation fan. Hagens Berman, a national law firm, filed a class action suit on August 9th against Apple, Harper Collins, Hachette, Macmillian, Penguin and Simon & Schuster, alleging the illegal fixing of e-book prices.
Major players in an industry that collude or conspire to fix pricing of a particular commodity is a major no-no under the Sherman Act. And this is off the top of my head. I'm sure Hagens Berman threw a ton more anti-trust statutes into the complaint.
How will the fallout of this lawsuit affect us indies?
Ironically, we're benefiting from agency pricing in two ways:
1) In agency pricing, the publisher sets the price, not the retailer. Guess what, folks? We're the publisher. When we discuss price points on J.A. Konrath's blog comments, are we colluding that $2.99 is the price we all agree to charge for e-books?
2) By the major companies mentioned in the lawsuit sticking to their higher price structures, don't we benefit from their agreement to keep their e-book prices so inflated? We can undercut them with ease right now.
As a consumer, I'm not happy when I can buy a hardback copy of Jim Butcher's Ghost Story for less than the e-book price.
But as an indie writer, I want Jim's publisher to balloon the e-book price because then, maybe, some reader on the hunt for a good urban fantasy may try Zombie Love instead.
So, what do y'all think of this lawsuit? Pros? Cons?