What the DoJ's Apple antitrust means for ebook prices

The work the Department of Justice is doing to take out what they see as a collusion on ebook pricing between publishers and Apple is meant, first and foremost, to create a fair market for consumers. As the DoJ finds the way that business is appearing to be done now to be illegal – with publishers setting prices for ebooks while the retailer takes a cut of the profit, things may make a flip in the very near future. Instead what the DoJ hopes to do is to keep the system in which the retailer sets the prices wherever they so choose, paying the publishers then a flat rate.

What this means for you is a very possible lowering of prices in the short run. If the DoJ is able to find a way to break up what they're seeing as the first model, retailers will have the ability to make big discounts happen in the short run. What will likely happen in the meantime though is these retailers vying for the exclusive attention of some publishers, this again then allowing publishers to artificially set prices the way the DoJ says they are this very moment with retailers such as Apple.

Publishers are currently in a great place when it comes to selling ebooks as they're able to ask retailers to set prices at a point where their ultimate goal can be met. Their ultimate goal is of course to keep themselves in business by either pushing ebooks as a primary sales point or by pricing those books just high enough that a reader would rather purchase a hardcover book instead. The DoJ wants the market to be much more free and open than it appears to be right now – discounts for books included.

Whether or not they'll be able to do it with the model they are proposing here is still and will continue to be open to debate.