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The Wall Street Journal (a division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation) has reported that another of News Corp’s properties, the publishing house HarperCollins, has been informed of an impending US Justice Department lawsuit alleging antitrust violations regarding e-book pricing. Other parties involved in this include Apple, Penguin Group, Simon & Schuster, Hachette Book Group, and MacMillan. Settlement talks have apparently been underway for some time.
If you’re a Kindle owner, you probably remember a little flap between Macmillan and Amazon when Macmillan refused to comply with Amazon’s $9.99 Kindle book pricing structure. Amazon briefly pulled their offerings until Amazon capitulated [now, we may know why]. Prices rose 50%+ and people like me stopped buying Macmillan e-books with witless abandon : ) [It’s a PRINCIPLE thing].
The WSJ piece is an interesting illustration of the corporate sensibility of Apple’s Steve Jobs vs. Amazon’s consumer-centric model.
Here’s a quick quote from the Wall Street Journal’s reporting; you can read the full article at your convenience:
“We told the publishers, ‘We’ll go to the agency model, where you set the price, and we get our 30%, and yes, the customer pays a little more, but that’s what you want anyway,’” Mr. Jobs was quoted as saying by his biographer, Walter Isaacson.
The publishers were then able to impose the same model across the industry, Mr. Jobs told Mr. Isaacson. “They went to Amazon and said, ‘You’re going to sign an agency contract or we’re not going to give you the books,’ ” Mr. Jobs said.
Update 3/9/12: Here’s an interesting take on the same topic, from Bloomberg Business.
On behalf of the newspaper industry, I wish to announce some changes we’re making to serve you better.
When I say “serve you better,” I mean “increase our profits.”
We newspapers are very big on profits these days.
We’re a business, just like any other business, except that we employ English majors.
—–Dave Barry (former English Major)
Every now and then, I’m contacted by people recently graduated from Ivy League schools who want to go to work for WordPros.
The potential interviewee is usually in their mid-twenties and has never published anything. Not even an article in the school paper.
Me: “And why do you want to be a writer?”
Grad: “Oh, I’ve ALWAYS wanted to be a writer.”
Me: “What have you written?”
Grad: “Oh, I’ve been too busy getting my degree to publish anything.”
Me: “Not even a blog?”
This phenomenon has ALWAYS puzzled me. But I carried 18 credit hours a semester while working three part-time jobs (yes, it nearly killed me and my GPA, but I made it). I even periodically squeezed in some volunteer work.
Gradually, over the years, I’ve realized there’s a certain class of professional student who never feels quite qualified enough to actually get a job and GO TO WORK.
So, they’re endlessly preparing, gathering credentials, planning to have all the certifications they may ever need to do the best job EVER in any field.
Without actually doing any real work. Just PREPARING. Forever.
(I even blogged about one facet of this phenomena, “failure to fledge,” last Spring).
Here’s a fascinating article from Bloomberg, highlighting a painful fact of life for holders of Masters Degrees in today’s job market:
About one-third of people with master’s degrees make less money on average than a typical bachelor’s degree holder, said Stephen J. Rose, a labor economist with Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, citing U.S. Census data.
Students who borrow to fund their further education are finding themselves in dire situations. One student plans to arrange to pay 15% of his salary for the next 25 years, with the understanding that the remaining debt will be forgiven after that time.
Is the treadmill really worth it? Probably not.
Click here to read the full story: Trapped by $50,000 Degree in Low-Paying Job.