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The European Commission has announced that it is opening a formal antitrust investigation into whether five international e-book publishers have been practicing anti-competitive tactics with the help of Apple

The European Commission has launched an antitrust investigation Tuesday that will determine if international e-book publishers and Apple have been partaking in anti-competitive activities.

Back in March of this year, the European Commission raided various e-book firms to see whether the sale of e-books breached competition rules. Around the same time, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) in the United Kingdom launched its own investigation into e-book prices. The European Commission and OFT had been working together through the year on the probe, but the OFT is now shutting its investigation down.

Now, the European Commission has announced that it is opening a formal antitrust investigation into whether five international e-book publishers have been practicing anti-competitive tactics with the help of Apple and its e-book store iBooks.

The five e-book publishers targeted in the investigation are Hachette Livre (Lagardère Publishing France), Harper Collins (News Corp., U.S.A.), Simon & Schuster (CBS Corp., U.S.A.), Penguin (Pearson Group, United Kingdom) and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holzbrinck (owner of inter alia Macmillan, Germany).

"The Commission will in particular investigate whether these publishing groups and Apple have engaged in illegal agreements or practices that would have the object or effect of restricting competition in the EU or in the EEA," said the European Commission's press release. "The Commission is also examining the character and terms of the agency agreements entered into by the above named five publishers and retailers for the sale of e-books."

The European Commission noted that the opening of proceedings indicates that this antitrust case will be treated as a "matter of priority."

There has been quite a bit of e-book drama over the last few months. For instance, the Authors Guild posted an angry blog entry about Amazon's Kindle Owners' Lending Library, and just last month, Penguin suspended the availability of its e-books to libraries saying that libraries are not allowed to loan e-books for the Kindle. Penguin even went to business partner OverDrive asking that it eliminate its "Get for Kindle" button for Penguin books.

Source: Europa

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RE: Duh...
By nocturne_81 on 12/6/2011 1:58:39 PM , Rating: 3
As far as personal ethics go, I see no problem at all lending an eBook to a friend.. though it's obviously a violation of the license agreement you likely agreed to when making the purchase..

iUsers are a different sort, though.. it's almost like they enjoy spending as much money as possible on apple-distributed products. Just a few weeks back, my own sister-in-law actively refused to simply plug in a thumbdrive in her macbook to transfer an album of mine to their machine -- instead opting to spend 10 bux buying the album from iTunes without even bothering to give it a listen first.

RE: Duh...
By Fritzr on 12/6/2011 2:12:47 PM , Rating: 2
I keep a couple of extra e-readers loaded with my library. To loan a book, I give the friend one of the spare e-readers. There is definitely incentive to get the book returned :P

RE: Duh...
By tng on 12/6/2011 4:27:32 PM , Rating: 4
Good idea, but I am not willing to spend that much on 2 readers.

Normally I am not worried so much that someone will not give a book back. Also setting up a "library" with all the books I have read would be difficult and not useful to me, mainly because there are very few fiction books that I read that I will re-read. I do keep plenty of reference stuff around though.

I may be old fashioned here, but I find thumbing through a real book (especially a hardcover) somehow satisfying.

RE: Duh...
By nocturne_81 on 12/6/2011 4:44:54 PM , Rating: 2
Amen... I do the majority of my reading (news, articles, work, etc) on a screen as it is.. By the time the day is done, my eyes already have taken enough abuse -- the last thing I want to do is stare at another screen while I'm trying to relax and read a book.

The simple e-Ink screens on Kindles and comparable devices are indeed a nice compromise, though IMO the contrast is still just too low. Nothing beats an actual book.. I can get whatever one I want for free from the public library, or purchase it from a store if I can't wait, then pass it on to a friend.

RE: Duh...
By JediJeb on 12/6/2011 6:00:05 PM , Rating: 3
I happen to still like books better myself. Two years ago we had an ice storm that knocked out the electricity at my house for 12 days. I read a lot of books then that I had been putting off. Maybe a Kindle would have lasted that long without a recharge, but I doubt very much an iAnything would have had that much battery life in it.

It was rather cool spending two weeks reading books by kerosene lamps at night in utter silence, though the cold showers I really don't miss.

RE: Duh...
By lightfoot on 12/6/2011 6:45:46 PM , Rating: 2
...though the cold showers I really don't miss.

Electric hot water heater? I went for 22 hours without power a month back (no where near as long, I admit) but during that period I noticed that I still had hot water - my natural gas water heater did not require power.

That moment of discovery was pure magic.

To this day I still think that my hot water heater is magic.

RE: Duh...
By PrinceGaz on 12/7/2011 2:47:05 PM , Rating: 2
If you are without mains power for an extended period, there are plenty of options to keep your iDevice going for pretty much as long as you like.

The easiest which anyone can use is a AA cell powered USB charger, where you stick four NiMH cells in which provides enough energy for a complete charge of an iPhone with a good bit to spare. Any freak like me who loves their gadgets should have at least a dozen of those hybrid AA cells on hand for whenever they're needed, along with a box of a couple of dozen or so alkalines to power things like remotes or wall-clocks which run for years, so the AA cell stockpile should keep your iDevice going for weeks. An app like Stanza takes hardly any power itself, you're basically just powering the screen, and when you turn the brightness down to a natural reading level, the screen takes very little power.

If you own a car, then it provides an even easier recharge option (presumably you'd already have bought a car-charger for your iDevice).

Having said that, a dedicated eReader is better if all you want to do is read books, but an iDevice (or Android, or whatever) can do almost as good a job if used properly, though I find I never actually read a book on mine and instead play some strategy wargame instead, which is probably the major advantage of an eReader-- you aren't tempted by a load of apps offering various forms of entertainment.

"We shipped it on Saturday. Then on Sunday, we rested." -- Steve Jobs on the iPad launch

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