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US Senator says DOJ should drop Apple ebook lawsuit

Senator Charles Schumer of New York (right) appealed to the U.S. Department of Justice yesterday in the Wall Street Journal to drop its lawsuit against Apple and a number of major publishers.

The DOJ alleges that Apple and the publishers colluded to raise prices in the ebook market. Schumer states that "the suit will restore Amazon to the dominant position atop the e-books market it occupied for years before competition arrived in the form of Apple. If that happens, consumers will be forced to accept whatever prices Amazon sets."

Schumer points out in his guest editorial that after Apple entered the market with iBooks, competition increased. Amazon's market share fell from 90 percent to 60 percent, and as a result the company had to "expand its catalog, invest in innovation, and reduce the prices of its Kindle reading devices" -- all things that are good for consumers. He notes that the average price for ebooks fell from US$9 to $7, while the DOJ looked at the fact that prices on a very few new releases have gone up.

Whether Schumer's printed entreaty will make a difference to the Department of Justice is unknown, but it's interesting to see an influential member of the Senate come to the defense of Apple and the publishing industry in this case.

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