Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog

Editor: D. Daniel Sokol
University of Florida
Levin College of Law

Monday, September 11, 2017

Cartel Ringmaster or Competition Creator? The Ebooks Case Against Apple (2013)

Jon Baker (American University) has interesting thoughts on Cartel Ringmaster or Competition Creator? The Ebooks Case Against Apple (2013).

ABSTRACT: In 2013, a federal district court found that Apple had orchestrated a cartel agreement involving it and five major book publishers three years earlier, when Apple opened the iBookstore in conjunction with the introduction of its iPad tablet computer. According to the court, Apple organized collective action by the publishers to take away ebook pricing authority from Amazon, an aggressive discounter, and to raise the retail prices of ebooks. 

This chapter describes the case from an economic point of view. It examines the competing views of the government and Apple over the competitive impact of various provisions in the iBookstore’s distribution agreements with the publishers, evaluates possible economic reasons why competition may not have been harmed even if Apple’s conduct led to higher ebook prices, and considers what Apple could have done differently to enter without harming competition.

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