Apple has fired back at the Department of Justice over the allegations that it was price fixing ebooks with various publishers. Apple’s response is similar to MacMillan and Penguin, two of the publishers that are being targeted by the DOJ. Three other publishers have already decided to settle the case, breaking current contracts with Apple and having to renegotiate new ones.
A spokesman for Apple, Tom Neumayr, has responded to the claims of price fixing, issuing the following statement:
The DOJ’s accusation of collusion against Apple is simply not true. The launch of the iBookstore in 2010 fostered innovation and competition, breaking [a] monopolistic grip on the publishing industry. Since then customers have benefited from eBooks that are more interactive and engaging. Just as we’ve allowed developers to set prices on the App Store, publishers set prices on the iBookstore.
Apple’s response comes two days after the US Department of Justice first filed the lawsuit against them and the six publishers involved. Following the DOJ’s announcement, an Australian watchdog body has asked retailers to raise any issues they have while they investigate the possibility of their own lawsuit. Meanwhile, various antitrust experts believe that the DOJ is unlikely to win its case against Apple, instead having a much stronger argument against the publishers themselves.
The DOJ hopes to change the current ebook system so that the retailer pays a flat fee to the publisher, and can offer any price that they choose to customers. That would bring lower prices in the short term, but could lead to some retailers vying for their own exclusive deals with the publishers.