A moment of nastiness here. I do not like Steve Jobs. In fact, because of Steve Jobs and the vast majority of his behaviors I have resisted purchasing Apple products.
This hasn’t been hard because most of the products have a nasty tendency to force one to play by his rules or go somewhere else. Software must be pre-approved. Only approved hardware will be allowed. Vendors with whom We Are Not Amused shall not be allowed.
Resist is not fully avoid, mind you. Jobs’s marketing skills and visions did bring some things into public use that might have lingered in dead ends for decades more if they surfaced at all. And Apple tends, or at least tended, to go with better than lowest vendor when choosing what is and is not in the black box.
Nonetheless, my personal image of Jobs is that he was typical of utopiasts; that his vision, as shiny and glorious as it might generally be, failed to allow for and even tolerate the different. For those the utopia envisioned, wasn’t.
The FBI is considering charges/suit against Apple and five of the Big Six publishers for price fixing. That they did it is highly likely. The idea of a wild morass containing dirty and ugly and craptastic stuff cheek and jowl with the great and beautiful is what most of Apple’s acts have been against, and the only way the company knew to prevent was to employ strong gatekeepers for heavily walled gardens.
It’s currently argued that allowing price competition and open competition will cause the Big Publishers to fail, or at least engage in price wars. This will push the price of books down overall, goes the claim. Thus far, “they” are right.
Then the claim goes on that this will destroy the market because lesser authors will have to price their books lower. Further the lower prices mean lower revenues for the authors, smaller royalty checks that just can’t let authors live.
It is true for those authors still running to traditional publishers (unless those publishers change their processes.) Nothing will require the independent author-publisher to push his book to a price any lower than that of Turow or King. And let’s be blunt, even if Amazon drops the royalty to 30% it’s still almost double what authors get from Big names — and that’s assuming you can get in the door of the Big Name, and only after the year or two it takes to get your book actually into stores, and …
If you insist that only Big Publishers matter, then yes this is probably going to be the end of the world or at least cataclysmic with but a handful of survivors. For readers who will suddenly have 20 of the 30 dollars available to try something else, for authors who are competing with the Big Six, it’s an opportunity.
One last thing. I believe that Apple’s biggest complaint about Amazon’s dominance (not monopoly) of the distribution field is that it’s Amazon, not Apple. It makes me just a little suspicious of all the angst they project.
I like the products, all things said. But I do not like the strings attached. Poor Apple, it looks like some of the strings are about to be cut.