• <b>19th Century Shop.</b> LINCOLN, ABRAHAM. <i>A superb collection of manuscripts signed by Lincoln and relics related to Lincoln’s death</i>. Washington, 1864-1865
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Rare Relic of the Underground Railroad (1857). <i>$500 Reward Ran away ...</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> CARTER, SUSANNAH. <i>The Frugal Housewife,</i> (1772) the second American cookbook, plates by Paul Revere.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> SCHIRRA, WALTER M.. Icon of the American Space Program. <i>A Complete Set of Schirra’s Flight Log Books (1947-69).</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> A fine pair of daguerreotypes, one a black nurse holding a white baby, the other the white parents. Maryland, c. 1853.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> The Internet. (COMPUTERS.) CERF, VINTON & KAHN, ROBERT. <i>"A Protocol for Packet Network Intercommunication" in IEEE Transactions on Communications.</i>
  • <b>Dirk Soulis April 30:</b> Lot 131. After Karl Bodmer (1809-1983) Pehriska-Ruhpa Aquatint. $1500-$2500
    <b>Dirk Soulis April 30:</b> Lot 212. Catlin Snow Show Dance Hand Tinted Lithograph No. 14. $1000-$2000.
    <b>Dirk Soulis April 30:</b> Lot 213: Hurlimann After Bodner Saukie Fox Indians Aquatint. $500-$1000.
    <b>Dirk Soulis April 30:</b> Lot 226: After Karl Bodmer. Dance of the Mandan Indians Aquatint. $1000-$1500.
    <b>Dirk Soulis April 30:</b> Lot 281: Karl Bodmer (1809-1983) Massika and Wakusasse Hand. $750-$1500.
    <b>Dirk Soulis April 30:</b> Lot 244: After Catlin Nah-To-Toh Pa Lithograph, Plus Another. $300-$600.
    <b>Dirk Soulis April 30:</b> Lot 305: History...Indian Tribes N. America, McKenney & Hall, 3. $3000-$5000.
    <b>Dirk Soulis April 30:</b> Lot 316: Catlin, George, "North American Indians," 1841, 2 Vols. $500-$1000.
    <b>Dirk Soulis April 30:</b> Lot 284: Catlin, George, "North American Indians," 1926, 2 Vols. $200-$300.
    <b>Dirk Soulis April 30:</b> Lot 285: Coleson, Miss Ann, "Among the<br>Sioux Indians!" 1864. $500-$1000.
    <b>Dirk Soulis April 30:</b> Lot 289: Heard, L.V.D., Sioux War and Massacres, 1865, First. $400-$800.
    <b>Dirk Soulis April 30:</b> Lot 288: Life of Life of Ma-Ka-Tai-Me-She-Kia-Kiak or Black Hawk, 1834. $400-$800.
  • Old World Auctions (May 4): Lot 18. Blaeu, <i>Nova et Accuratissima Totius Terrarum Orbis Tabula</i>, 1660.<br>Est. $14000-$17000
    Old World Auctions (May 4): Lot 20. Pitt, <i>Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis Geographica ac Hydrographica Tabula</i>, 1680. Est. $9500-$11000
    Old World Auctions (May 4): Lot 65. Ortelius, <i>Americae sive Novi Orbis, Nova Descriptio</i>, 1571. <br>Est. $6000-$7000
    Old World Auctions (May 4): Lot 84. Bailleul, <i>L'Amerique Divisee en Ses Principales Parties</i>, 1752.<br>Est. $19000-$22000
    Old World Auctions (May 4): Lot 99. Sayer & Bennett, <i>The American Military Pocket Atlas</i>, 1776. <br>Est. $10000-$12000
    Old World Auctions (May 4): Lot 269. Reid, <i>Plan of the City of Washington in the Territory of Columbia</i>, 1796. <br>Est. $2750-$3500
    Old World Auctions (May 4): Lot 291. Carleton, <i>Map of Massachusetts Proper</i>, 1801. Est. $12000-$14000
    Old World Auctions (May 4): Lot 378. Keulen, <i>Pas Kaart vande Noord Oost Kust van Cuba en d'Oost Kust van Florida</i>, 1695. Est. $3250-$4000
    Old World Auctions (May 4): Lot 651. Ptolemy/Fries, <i>Tabula Superioris Indiae & Tartariae Maioris</i>, 1541.<br>Est. $3000-$4000
    Old World Auctions (May 4): Lot 688. Wit, <i>Nova Africa Descriptio</i>, 1660.<br>Est. $2750-$3500
    Old World Auctions (May 4): Lot 706. Ortelius, <i>Maris Pacifici</i>, 1589.<br>Est. $8000-$9000
    Old World Auctions (May 4): Lot 727. Audubon, <i>Least Stormy-Petrel</i>, 1836. Est. $1400-$1700
    Old World Auctions (May 4): Lot 741. Bordone, <i>Isolario</i>, 1547.<br>Est. $16000-$19000
    Old World Auctions (May 4): Lot 747. Teesdale, <i>A New General Atlas of the World</i>, 1835. Est. $2000-$2750
    Old World Auctions (May 4): Lot 752. Colton, <i>Colton's Atlas of the World Volume I and II</i>, 1856.<br>Est. $2500-$3250
    Old World Auctions (May 4): Lot 760. Prevost, <i>Histoire Generale des Voyages ... Tome Quatorzieme</i>, 1757. <br>Est. $2400-$3000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 5: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 5:</b> Anne & Margot Frank's copy of <i>Grimm's Fairy Tales</i>, in which Anne wrote her own and Margot's name, circa 1940. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 5:</b> Albert Einstein, group of 4 letters Signed to Helmut L. Bradt regarding Bradt's emigration to the U.S., one bearing Nazi censor ink stamps, 1939-40. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 5:</b> Archive of items from Ludwig Bemelmans to producer Mary K. Frank, concerning <i>The Street <br>Where the Heart Lies</i>, 1959-62. <br>$10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 5: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 5:</b> Archive of correspondence to<br>Edwin A. Van Valkenburg from President Theodore Roosevelt and members of his family, 1913-21. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 5:</b> Oscar Wilde, manuscript notes panning a book on book collecting, circa 1886. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 5:</b><br>John Hancock, partly-printed document Signed as Governor of Massachusetts, Boston, 1781.<br>$4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 5: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 5:</b> Franz Liszt, Autograph Letter<br>Signed to Carl Gille, Rome, 1869. $4,00 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 5:</b> Joseph Conrad, photograph Signed and dated, 1918. $1,000 to $2,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 5:</b><br>Two Guns White Calf, photograph postcard Signed with his pictogram, 1929. $800 to $1,200.

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - March - 2012 Issue

Electronic Book Pricing Under Attack

Kindlejobsbio

The Kindle edition of the Jobs' biography, for sale on Amazon.

The electronic book and publishing world is anxiously watching legal actions that may affect the profitability of this form of an over 500-year-old business. Allegations have been raised by private parties, and unconfirmed reports indicate the U.S. Department of Justice may be looking into the claims. We do not know what, if any, action the DOJ will take, but a look at a lawsuit filed last summer, and updated about a month ago, gives us a glimpse at what is at issue.

The complaint was filed by Hagens Berman, a large law firm that likes to take on class action suits. These are generally suits where a lot of individuals' claims, often each of which is relatively small, are combined into one large action against a much bigger foe. That foe is often a large corporation, or what is known in the trade as a “target” defendant, or one with “deep pockets.” If the suit is successful, the defendant is stopped from committing further wrongdoing, the damaged individuals get a little compensation, and the law firm makes a whole lot of money. Some people are understandably offended that the law firm is the only one that gets seriously paid, but if something like price fixing is taking place, and the government doesn't act, this may be the only way private citizens can stop the practice.

This class action suit was brought against five publishers – MacMillan, Hachette, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins (a division of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.), and one very deep-pocketed target defendant, the most valuable company in the world – Apple. With $100 billion (yes, billion) in cash sitting on its balance sheet, who wouldn't like to sue Apple?

When Amazon started selling e-books, a primary part of their strategy was to make them cheap. The $9.99 book was created. Amazon didn't make much on selling these e-books, at times even taking a loss. Amazon, unlike Apple, is not a massively profitable business, but there is a reason. Amazon is more focused on building their business for the future than making a lot of money now. By selling e-books for much less than printed ones, Amazon figured (correctly) it could wean a lot of readers over to electronic reading. On top of this, Amazon, with its Kindle e-reader, dominated the e-reader business, with something like 75% of the business. Selling cheap e-books encouraged readers to buy a Kindle e-reader. And ultimately, Amazon even started selling the Kindles cheaply, foregoing profits on them to get you hooked into the process of buying your e-books from Amazon to read on your Kindle electronic reader. The idea was to get people into the habit of fulfilling all of their book reading needs through Amazon. If it wasn't enormously profitable short term, in time that huge customer base would become a large source of revenue and profits for Amazon.

The publishers didn't much like this. Sure, they were getting paid their price for their e-books, but they did not like the long term implications. If Amazon established in consumers' minds that a book is worth only $9.99, and no more, it would make it very hard for them to ever raise prices, and it would make it very hard to sell traditional, printed books for typically established prices. Publishers seriously wanted Amazon to charge more.

So, according to the allegations in the lawsuit, the publishers decided to set the retail price for electronic books. A typical price appears to be $14.99.

Meanwhile, someone else became interested in selling electronic books – the aforementioned Apple. Apple was interested in encroaching on Amazon's e-reader market, selling books to be read on their iPad tablet computers, portable devices which can function as e-readers. Since Amazon is starting to morph their Kindle e-readers into being tablet computers as well, to go after Apple's dominant iPad market, Apple was more than willing turn the tables and go after Amazon's e-reader market. To this end, Apple was willing to go along with what is called the “agency model,” the complaint alleges. In this model, the publisher sets the price, and the seller gets a fixed commission, like 30%. However, while Apple did not seek to garner market share by undercutting the competition, they did not want to charge more than others either. Therefore, to get Apple to sell their e-books, and have them charge higher “agency model” pricing, the publishers had to force up Amazon's retail pricing, or so the complaint alleges.

In their complaint, the e-book consumers, as represented by law firm Hagens Berman, claim the publishers “conspired with Apple to force Amazon to adopt a new agency model in which publishers set prices directly, effectively ending Amazon’s ability to provide consumer-friendly pricing for e-books.” After the new pricing model was unanimously adopted by the publishers, the complaint further alleges, “the price of e-books shot up 30 percent.” The law firm describes this as a “price-fixing conspiracy,” and as “illegal,” which, if their allegations are true, is probably correct.

The law firm cites various alleged statements as evidence of the conspiracy. It cited a statement by Hachette CEO David Young in the New Yorker that if the consumer comes to believe a book is worth “ten bucks,” then “to my mind it's game over for this business.” It says Macmillan CEO John Sargent wrote on a blog that the previous market was “fundamentally unbalanced,” but that the agency model is “stable and rational.” The law firm also claims a Hachette executive met with Amazon and said that a price increase would solve the industry problem. Finally, they cite the Walter Isaacson biography of the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs, with Jobs reportedly saying that Amazon “screwed it up,” and that Jobs described his request that no other retailer be allowed to sell e-books for less than the price Apple charged.

By the way, if you want to read Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs, you can buy a copy on Amazon. The price is $14.99.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Bonhams Fine Books and Manuscripts, 8 June 2016, New York
    Bonhams June 8: ARISTOTLE.<br>384-322 B.C.E. De animalibus <br>US$ 300,000-500,000.
  • Auctionata Apr 28. Lot 43: "The Gospel of Mary," Janus Press, 1995, Ltd Ed. Start price $700.
    Auctionata Apr 28. Lot 24: E.B. White, "Charlotte's Web," London, 1952, First Edition Start price $ 6,000.
    Auctionata Apr 28. Lot 9: Alan Turing, "The Word Problem in Semi-Groups," 1950, First Ed. Start price $1,300.
    Auctionata Apr 28. Lot 14: Henry Chadwick, "The Game of Base Ball", NY, 1868, First Ed. Start Price $6,500.
    Auctionata Apr 28. Lot 19: "The Writings of Henry David Thoreau," 1906, Limited Manuscript Edition. <br>Start Price $13,000.
    Auctionata Apr 28. Lot 21: E.B. White & James Thurber, "Is Sex Necessary," 1929, First Ed. Start Price $1,700.
    Auctionata Apr 28. Lot 27: Hooker, "The Rhododendrons of Sikkim-Himalaya," London, 1849-51.<br>Start Price $9,000.
    Auctionata Apr 28. Lot 28: <br>"The Works of Charles Dickens," <br>60 Vols, 1881, Edition de Luxe.<br>Start Price $9,000.
    Auctionata Apr 28. Lot 37: Murray, "Collection of Drawings by the Old Masters," 1904. Start Price $3,200.
    Auctionata Apr 28. Lot 38:<br>Josef Albers, "Interaction of Color",<br>New Haven, 1963, First Edition.<br>Start Price $6,500.
    Auctionata Apr 28. Lot 39: Robert Motherwell, "The Madrid Suite" (Set of 10), 1966. Start Price $11,000.
    Auctionata Apr 28. Lot 1: Signed<br>J. K. Rowling, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," 2003. $600.

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