• <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 3-17):</b><br>Lot 14. Blaeu,<i>Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis Geographica ac Hydrographica Tabula</i>, 1635. Est. $14000-$16000
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 3-17):</b><br>Lot 305. Arrowsmith, <i>Texas: The Rise, Progress, and Prospects of the Republic of Texas</i>, 1841. Est. $18000-$20000
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 3-17):</b><br>Lot 256. Thackara, <i>Plan of the City<br>of Washington in the Territory of Columbia</i>, 1792. Est. $13000-$16000
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 3-17):</b> <br>Lot 188. Browne/Senex, A New<br>Map of Virginia Mary-land, 1719. <br>Est. $5500-$6500
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 3-17):</b> <br>Lot 47. Cellarius, <i>Scenographia Systematis Copernicani</i>, 1708.<br>Est. $2400-$3000
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 3-17):</b> <br>Lot 6. Ortelius, <i>Typus Orbis Terrarum</i>, 1571. Est. $7000-$8500
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 3-17):</b> <br>Lot 413. De Medina, <i>Mundo Novo,</i> 1554. Est. $7000-$9000
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 3-17):</b> <br>Lot 37. Jansson, <i>Histoire des Grands Chemins de l'Empire Romain</i>, 1736. Est. $3000-$3750
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 3-17):</b> <br>Lot 798. Le Rouge, <i>Atlas Nouveau Portatif a l'Usage des Militaires</i>, 1748. Est. $2400-$3000
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 3-17):</b> <br>Lot 60. Munster, <i>Tabula Novarum Insularum</i>, 1559. Est. $5500-$7000
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 3-17):</b> <br>Lot 122. Morden, <i>A New Map of the English Empire in America</i>, 1695. <br>Est. $14000-$16000
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 3-17):</b> <br>Lot 291. J.J. Stoner, Niagara-Falls, <br>N.Y., 1882. Est. $1600-$1900
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 3-17):</b> <br>Lot 797. Sanson, <i>Die Gantze Erd-Kugel</i> ... Europa, Asia, Africa und America, 1679. Est. $8000-$10000
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 3-17):</b> <br>Lot 799. Lotter/Lobeck, Atlas Geographicus Portatilis, 1760.<br>Est. $1600-$1900
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 3-17):</b> <br>Lot 808. Railroad Companies, [<i>Manuscript Railroad Atlas</i>], 1890.<br>Est. $1000-$1500
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 3-17):</b> <br>Lot 800. Pinkerton, <i>A Modern Atlas</i>, 1815. Est. $8000-$10000
  • <b>Cowan's Books and Maps: Timed Online Auction, Open, Bid Now!</b>
    <b>Cowan's Books and Maps: </b> Lot 30. <i>Adventures of Huckleberry Finn</i>, First Edition. Est $1000-$1500. BID NOW!
    <b>Cowan's Books and Maps: </b> Lot 46. Explorations for a Pacific Railroad Route, 13 Vols. EST $2,000-$3,000. BID NOW!
    <b>Cowan's Books and Maps: </b> Lot 47. <br>The Novels and Stories of Willa Cather, Autograph Edition. Nos 1-13.<br>EST $4,000-$6,000. BID NOW!
    <b>Cowan's Books and Maps: </b> Lot 14. <br><i>The Glory of New York by Joseph Pennell</i>, Bruce Rogers Design. <br>EST $1,000-$2,000. BID NOW!
    <b>Cowan's Books and Maps: Timed Online Auction, Open, Bid Now!</b>
    <b>Cowan's Books and Maps: </b> Lot 31. <i>Little Women</i>, First Edition. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1868-1869.<br>Est $800-$1000. BID NOW!
    <b>Cowan's Books and Maps: </b> Lot 63. <br><i>Isis Unveiled: A Master-Key to the Mysteries of Ancient and Modern ...</i><br>Est $1500-$3000. BID NOW!
    <b>Cowan's Books and Maps: </b> Lot 76. <i>Sanson's Atlantis Insula</i> (Nicolas, 1600-1667; Guillaume, 1633-1703). Est $1000-$2000. BID NOW!
    <b>Cowan's Books and Maps: </b> Lot 85. <i>White's County and District Map<br>of the State of West Virginia, 1875</i>.<br>Est $2500-$5000. BID NOW!
    <b>Cowan's Books and Maps: Timed Online Auction, Open, Bid Now!</b>
    <b>Cowan's Books and Maps: </b> Lot 5.<br><i>A Confession of Faith</i>, Early Connecticut Imprint Regarding<br>the Saybrook Platform, 1760.<br>Est $200-$300. BID NOW!
    <b>Cowan's Books and Maps: </b> Lot 78. Senex, John. <i>Map of Louisiana and of the River Mississipi</i> [sic]. [England]. 1719. Est $2000-$3000. BID NOW!
    <b>Cowan's Books and Maps: </b> Lot 69. Lot of Children's Chapbooks and Fiction, Plus. Est $150-$300. BID NOW!
    <b>Cowan's Books and Maps: </b> Lot 11. Dard Hunter <i>Papermaking Pilgrimage to Japan, Korea and China</i>. 1936.<br>Est $1500-$2500. BID NOW!
  • <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>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:<br>Art & Storytelling: Photographs<br>& Photobooks</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Marcus A. Root, "<i>General Tom Thumb</i>" with parents, daguerreotype, circa 1846. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> William Saunders, <i>Sketches of Chinese Life and Character</i>, album with 50 hand-colored photographs, 1871-72. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Wilson A. Bentley, album of 25 microphotographs from glass<br>plate negatives, 1888-1927.<br>$20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:<br>Art & Storytelling: Photographs<br>& Photobooks</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Hilla & Bernhard Becher, <i>Anonyme Skulpturen, Eine Typologie technischer Bauten</i>, first edition inscribed, Düsseldorf, 1970. $1,200 to $1,800.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Edward Ruscha, four seminal artist's books in original dust jackets.<br>$1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Typological set of more than 100 photographs of WWII fighter planes, 1942-45. $400 to $600.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b><br>Roy DeCarava and Langston Hughes, <i>The Sweet Flypaper of Life</i>, first edition signed by authors, New York, 1955. $500 to $750.

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2014 Issue

Apple Appeals Judgment It Engaged in E-Book Price-Fixing Scheme

9c868a8d-e93c-4a5b-98c8-b54387ce8fc2

Apple appeals the judgment against it.

As promised, Apple has filed a blistering appeal against a federal court decision that held it had participated in a conspiracy with book publishers to fix the prices of electronic books at artificially high levels. “Apple and the Publisher Defendants agreed to work together to eliminate retail price competition in the e-book market and raise the price of e-books above $9.99,” wrote District Court Judge Denise Cote in her opinion. Just the opposite, responded Apple. “Apple’s entry as an e-book retailer marked the beginning, not the end, of competition.” Who is right? Stay tuned.

 

Here is what we know. In late 2009, Amazon controlled 90% of the e-book market. Part of their strategy for gaining such control was low pricing, sometimes selling books at less than their cost, particularly with the most popular titles. It made it extremely difficult for others to enter the business.

 

While book publishers were able to sell these e-books to Amazon for the prices they wanted, they were still unhappy. Two things bothered them. One was they feared Amazon's unexpectedly low e-book prices would interfere with their ability to sell printed books, a more lucrative market. Secondly, no one likes to have most of their sales go to a single customer. It can give that customer enormous leverage over the supplier in future negotiations. That is a very risky position for any supplier.

 

Evidently, various publishers were aware that their compatriots were similarly distressed by this situation, though we do not know how much direct communication there was between them. After they, and Apple, were sued by the Department of Justice and others for a conspiracy to fix prices, all five publishers agreed to pay large sums in settlement. Whether they settled out of guilt, or, as one publisher claimed, simply because the potential financial risk of a loss in court was so great it would put them out of business, is uncertain.

 

In December of 2009, Apple approached the publishers with a plan to open an online e-book store, to go along with its newly introduced tablet computer, which can also be used as an e-reader. However, Apple concluded this would not be feasible unless two conditions were met. First, it must make a reasonable profit. Apple has no interest in building market share by losing money, as Amazon does. Secondly, it did not want to have anyone else undercutting their prices, making them look bad. If Apple needed a 30% profit, while Amazon sold at cost, naturally Apple's price would be 30% more for the same books, an embarrassing situation. Apple may charge a high price for its merchandise, but that is because it is unique, Apple-branded merchandise. It does not want to sell the same thing as Amazon for a much higher price.

 

Apple explained its requirements to the publishers. What it wanted was for the publishers to adopt “agency” pricing. At the time, the publishers were selling their e-books (primarily to Amazon) at a set wholesale price. Amazon then set the retail price. The bookseller was free to go as low (or high) as it wanted, depending on how much or little it was willing to make on each sale. In agency pricing, however, the publisher sets the retail price. All retailers must sell their books for at least that much. The retail prices they set afforded a 30% commission for the retailers. Of course, this meant that books Amazon was selling at cost or a loss would rise by at least 30%.

 

Exactly what happened next is unclear. What we do know is that a few weeks later, all at once, the five publishers switched over to agency pricing. Amazon had little choice but to accede. Meanwhile, Apple began selling e-books. According to Apple, between themselves and Barnes & Noble (who could also now afford to sell e-books), they control 30%-40% of the market, meaning Amazon's share has dropped substantially from its previous 90%.

 

So the question becomes, what did Apple do in that period between telling the publishers individually what they demanded to sell e-books and the publishers switching to Apple's required agency model? Apple had a legal right to tell publishers it would only sell if prices were set so they could make 30% while no one else could sell for less. That is not illegal price fixing. What is illegal is for them to act in concert with multiple publishers to set prices – that is a legal “conspiracy” to fix prices. Even if the publishers conspired with each other to set prices, which is illegal, that does not necessarily mean Apple conspired with them if Apple acted independently with each. However, if, as the court ruled, in the Department of Justice's words, Apple was a “ringmaster” in this conspiracy, then they have violated the law.

 

The court looked at the evidence and said, in effect, of course Apple was pulling the strings. There is something in the law called a “per se” standard that says there is an antitrust violation where the evidence is obvious. And then, there is another standard where it is not so obvious, but if the evidence establishes participation in a conspiracy, it is also a violation. The court focused on “per se” guilt, but said Apple was guilty under both standards.

 

Apple responded that the evidence does not establish such participation, and that the law requires clear evidence, not just actions that are consistent with a conspiracy. The demands it made on publishers, Apple said, were strictly normal ones to meet its business needs, and did not require a conspiracy. They say they simply told the publishers what they needed in order to sell e-books, and left it to the publishers to decide whether to meet their requirements. If the publishers conspired among themselves, that was not Apple's doing. They neither participated nor encouraged the publishers to act in concert.

 

Apple also challenged whether the result of their requirements was anti-competitive anyway. They cite the fact that Amazon's share has substantially decreased, while new vendors now offer e-books for sale. That is pro-competition, not a hindrance to it, Apple argues. There are now more retailers selling e-books. On prices, Apple also cited statistics that e-book prices, as a whole, have come down. Self-published books, in particular, Apple claims, have seen their prices drop, as the 30% profit Apple demands leaves the self-publishers 70%. Apple says this is twice what Amazon used to give them before Apple began carrying their books, enabling these publishers to lower their retail prices. And one more thing – Apple says they did not demand publishers lower retail prices, only that the minimum price leave them a 30% margin. Publishers could set the prices at $9.99 or even less if they chose, so long as the wholesale price was 30% less. What appears to have happened, if Apple's statistics are right, is that overall e-book prices came down, though the prices for the most popular books, which Amazon used to sell at little or no profit, went up.

 

The Department of Justice has said it will respond to Apple's appeal in May. You can be sure they will give a far less benign account of Apple's actions. Judge Cote's decision paints a series of discussions between Apple and the publishers that implies that firm was knowingly leading them down the road of joint price setting, even while holding separate conversations. It will then be up to the Appeals Court to confirm that ruling, overturn it, or order a new trial. One thing you can count on – Apple will not give up easily or go quietly into the night. This case may one day find itself in the Supreme Court.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams Fine Books and Manuscripts, February 14th, 2016.</b>
    <b>Bonhams Feb 14th:</b> Lot 9. HIERONYMUS. C.340-420. <i>Epistolae. WITH: Lupus de Oliveto. Regula Monachorum ...</i> US$ 20,000-30,000.
    <b>Bonhams Feb 14th:</b> Lot 47. FROST, A.B. 1858-1921. Shooting Pictures. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.<br>US$ 10,000-15,000.
    <b>Bonhams Feb 14th:</b> Lot 53. PICASSO, PABLO, RAOUL HAUSMANN, et al. ILIAZD, ed. Poesie de mots inconnus. 1949. US$ 8,000-12,000.
    <b>Bonhams Feb 14th:</b> Lot 64. BRIGGS, HENRY. 1561-1630. <i>The North Part of America</i>. [London: 1625]. Engraved by R. Elstracke. US$ 8,000-12,000.
    <b>Bonhams Feb 14th:</b> Lot 79. COPERNICUS, NICOLAUS. De revolutionibus orbium coelestium. 1566. US$ 80,000-120,000.
    <b>Bonhams Feb 14th:</b> Lot 80. DARWIN, CHARLES. On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of ... US$ 70,000-90,000.
    <b>Bonhams Feb 14th:</b> Lot 87. NEWTON, ISAAC, SIR. Autograph Manuscript in Latin and English [n.p., early 1670s}. US$ 100,000-150,000
    <b>Bonhams Feb 14th:</b> Lot 93. Dr. Kary Mullis' 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, awarded to him for the invention of the Polymerase Chain Reaction. US$ 450,000-550,000.
    <b>Bonhams Feb 14th:</b> Lot 96.<br>CLEMENS, SAMUEL. Autograph Manuscript, nearly complete chapter 30 of <i>A Tramp Abroad</i>, c.1879.<br>US$ 20,000-30,000.
    <b>Bonhams Feb 14th:</b> Lot 105. GOLF. [MATHISON, THOMAS. d.1754.]<br><i>The Goff</i>. An Heroi-Comical Poem.<br>US$ 40,000-60,000.
    <b>Bonhams Feb 14th:</b> Lot 113. JOYCE, JAMES. 1882-1941. <i>Ulysses</i>. First Edition, Presentation Copy, Signed and Inscribed by Joyce on the half-title. US$ 40,000-60,000.
    <b>Bonhams Feb 14th:</b> Lot 120. LONDON, JACK. Autograph Manuscript of the short story "Flush of Gold". US$ 40,000-60,000.
    <b>Bonhams Feb 14th:</b> Lot 135. STEINBECK, JOHN. Autograph Manuscript of an unpublished short story. US$ 35,000-45,000.
    <b>Bonhams Feb 14th:</b> Lot 149. GERONIMO. BARRETT, S.M., ed. Geronimo's Story of His Life. 1906. US$ 12,000-18,000.
    <b>Bonhams Feb 14th:</b> Lot 165.<br>ENOLA GAY. LEWIS, ROBERT A. An official pilot's log, 1942 to 1946.<br>US$ 50,000-80,000.

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions