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Book News: Apple, DOJ Tussle As Ebook Price Fixing Trial Ends

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • Apple and the Department of Justice wrapped up closing arguments Thursday in their three-week ebook price-fixing trial before U.S. District Judge Denise Cote. Apple attorney Orin Snyder said the company did not conspire with a single publisher to fix prices in the e-books industry," adding that if Apple is found guilty, "that precedent will send shudders through the business community" as companies look for new markets. Justice Department attorney Mark Ryan countered that Apple was in charge of "an old-fashioned, straightforward price-fixing agreement" with five major publishing houses. The government has since settled with those publishers. Cote, who had said before the trial that she thought the DOJ would be able to prove its case, hinted her views have changed, saying Wednesday that "the issues have somewhat shifted during the course of the trial." She is expected to rule in the civil antitrust case later this year.
  • For The Atlantic, essayist Joseph Epstein argues that Kafka is overrated: "Kafka found [life] unbearably complicated, altogether daunting, and for the most part joyless, and so described it in his fiction. This is not, let us agree, the best outlook for a great writer. Great writers are impressed by the mysteries of life; poor Franz Kafka was crushed by them."
  • New York Magazine's Vulture ranks the 185 Choose Your Own Adventure books in order "from most to least awesome-sounding." The top slot goes to Prisoner of the Ant People (super awesome), and the place of shame goes to The First Olympics. (U.N. Adventure was also a contender.)
  • Audrea Lim considers Tao Lin's Taipei within the wider history of drug literature: "If altered states were once, as the old Aldous Huxley chestnut has it, "doors of perception," then sometime between Huxley's era and the one depicted in Taipei, those doors seem to have closed."
  • Publishers Weekly is putting out its first ebook, an account of the Apple price-fixing case titled The Battle of $9.99: How Apple, Amazon and the "Big Six" Publishers Changed the E-Book Business Overnight, written by PW senior editor Andrew Albanese.
  • An Oklahoma textbook salesman at John Wiley & Sons stole $2.8 million in textbooks, according to federal authorities. Christopher J. Brock allegedly sent thousands of textbooks as samples to fake professors at addresses under his control, and then resold them. According to The Jersey Journal, he used the money to buy, among other things, "high-end home furnishings."
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