ALA vs. AAP: The Blow-by-Blow

ALA vs. AAP

The battle is heating up between two industries struggling to find their way in the digital world.  Publishers are trying to figure out the best distribution models for ebooks while libraries are shut out of providing ebooks by several major publishers.  The proxy battle is being fought by the American Library Association (ALA) and the Association of American Publishers (AAP).

The beginning stages in 2011 (see Eric Hellman’s blog post on 1/1/2012) were just the beginning.  Last month saw an aggressive ALA president issue demands to the publishers who responded quickly in an equally stern manner.

Here is a timeline of headlines and press releases which described blow-by-blow the actions and reactions of the two sides.

1/1/2012 – AAP: 2011: The Year the eBook Wars Broke Out [Go To Hellman]

2/2/2012 – AAP: Fair Trade: Random House Will Raise Library E-book Prices, But Commits to E-Book Lending [Publishers Weekly]

2/3/2012 – AAP: Random House makes history, says it will sell books to libraries with no restriction on number of loans [Melville House]

2/9/2012 – ALA: Penguin Group Terminating Its Contract with OverDrive [The Digital Shift]

3/2/2012 – AAP: Librarians Feel Sticker Shock as Price for Random House Ebooks Rises as Much as 300 Percent [The Digital Shift]

3/22/2012 – AAP: Video: Annual Meeting, Publishers and Libraries Panel [Association of American Publishers]

5/18/2012 – ALA: Ebooks: Promising New Conversations [American Libraries]

5/29/2012 – ALA: E-Content: The Digital Dialog supplement [American Library Association]

6/21/2012 – AAP: Penguin to Pilot Library E-Book Lending Program in New York, Windowing Front-List Titles [Digital Book World]

8/8/2012 – ALA: ALA Releases “Ebook Business Models for Public Libraries” [ALA Digital Content and Libraries Working Group]

9/14/2012 – AAP: Hachette Book Group’s New Library eBook Pricing [OverDrive]

9/14/2012 – ALA: This Just In: ALA Decries Hachette’s 104% Library Ebook Price Increase (Corrected) [American Libraries]

9/24/2012 – AAP: Macmillan Poised to Test Library E-book Model [Publishers Weekly]

9/24/2012 – ALA: An open letter to America’s publishers from ALA President Maureen Sullivan [ALA Press Release]

9/25/2012 – AAP: AAP Statement in Response to American Library Association President’s Letter [AAP Press Release]

9/27/2012 – ALA: Remarks by ALA President Maureen Sullivan at the Association of American Publishers Fall Meeting [American Libraries]

10/2/2012 – ALA: Focus on the Future [American Libraries]

Justice Department To Sue Apple and Major Publishers

iPadThe fallout from the implementation of the agency model for ebook selling hasn’t died.  Today, the Wall Street Journal says that the US Justice Department is going to sue Apple and five major book publishers.

The five publishers facing a potential suit are CBS Corp.’s Simon & Schuster Inc.; Lagardere SCA’s Hachette Book Group; Pearson PLC’s Penguin Group (USA); Macmillan, a unit of Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH; and HarperCollins Publishers Inc., a unit of News Corp. , which also owns The Wall Street Journal.

[…]

The case centers on Apple’s move to change the way that publishers charged for e-books as it prepared to introduce its first iPad in early 2010. Traditionally, publishers sold books to retailers for roughly half of the recommended cover price. Under that “wholesale model,” booksellers were then free to offer those books to customers for less than the cover price if they wished. Most physical books are sold using this model.

There are several proposed ideas for settling the matter.  One idea is “to preserve the agency model but allow some discounts by booksellers” but it’s unclear how that would work.  Another idea is delaying the release of digital versions after the publishing of the printed version.

Read the article U.S. Warns Apple, Publishers.