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Authors Guild President opposes DOJ lawsuit, paints Amazon's ebook monopoly as bigger threat

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Authors Guild President Scott Turow published an open letter and an editorial in Bloomberg urging the Department of Justice to reconsider its potential antitrust lawsuit against Apple and various book publishers. Turow claims that Amazon's prior monopoly on the industry was much worse.

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iBooks iPhone Icon 640

Apple may be preparing to defend itself from a potential antitrust lawsuit over alleged ebook price fixing, but now Authors Guild President Scott Turow is giving his two-cents on the situation — and he isn't mincing words when it comes to Amazon. In an open letter to Authors Guild members earlier this month, and more recently in a Bloomberg editorial, Turow is urging the Department of Justice to reconsider the possible antitrust suit against Apple and various publishers. He argues that Apple's entry to the ebook market and the move to the agency model has fostered far more competition than when Amazon dominated just a few years ago. Turow even refers to Amazon as the "Bookselling Darth Vader," noting the company has put a stranglehold on brick-and-mortar booksellers, and is now expanding into other areas of the industry, including publishing.

The move to the agency model for ebooks allowed publishers to set their own prices, with distributors — like Apple — taking a cut of every sale. This caused an industry-wide increase in ebook prices, and is apparently what the DOJ is centering its case around. But Turow claims that this makes little sense, as publishers make significantly less from the agency model, but were quick to adopt it in an attempt to halt Amazon's practices that were "making it uneconomic for physical bookstores to keep their doors open." While many of Turow's comments about the potential case and Amazon's sales practices seem damning, the Author's Guild does have a lot to gain from keeping the agency model around — higher book prices mean more money in the pockets of authors. With Apple, Amazon, publishers, authors, and the DOJ all involved in this potential lawsuit, we imagine this won't be the last critical editorial we read on the matter.