The aftermath of the eBooks trial.

John Gruber linked to this concise explanation by Adam Engst of what the eBooks verdict means for Apple and what the settlements mean for the publishers and Amazon One thing that surprised me is that the settlements have put the publishers in a better position than they were in previously to the whole ordeal:

...[the publishers agreed] to terminate existing contracts with Apple and other ebook retailers, and renegotiate contracts that don’t prevent retailers from discounting ebook prices. However, retailers are not allowed to discount below the point of breaking even on a publisher’s works overall. In other words, Amazon can still discount titles below cost, but not to the extent of losing money on a particular publisher’s titles in their entirety.

From a practical standpoint, ebook retailers have gained price control again, and ebook prices have vacillated, dropping initially, then rising slowly.

So Amazon gets to sell ebooks at a loss but there are limits to the amount of books from any one publishers that they can do this with. While I am still not sold on the idea that pervasive loss leading by a retailer to corner a particular market is good for the overall health of that market this seems like a reasonable solution. I'm sure publishers can use the carrot of drm free books to eventually gain more control over prices in the future.

I also have doubts as to whether there is enough hard evidence to directly link Apple to any supposed conspiracy (remember the publishers were not convicted, they merely settled) amongst the booksellers. Selective quotes from a dead guy who can't defend himself and a fragment of an unsent email do not seem like. I'm not a lawyer but common sense says we were supposed to be presumed innocent until proven guilty... you know with real evidence, not via circumstantial evidence and speculation. The business side of me finds it deeply disturbing that someone can be held accountable for the actions of another party because they entered into a perfectly legal business contract with that party. I guess we will see if the higher courts, which have traditionally been more sympathetic to business, will rule that the evidence the DOJ has put forth it truly enough to punish Apple.