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Against Monopoly

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Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.





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For books, it isn't just a choice between Apple and Amazon

Steve Pearlstein writes in the Washington Post about competition in the book selling business link here. He boils the policy issue down to picking your monopolist, Apple or Amazon. That doesn't really frame the choices consumers face.

His frame is either control of the ebook market by Amazon which priced them at $9.99 or by Apple, which raised prices by 30-40 percent through setting a wholesale price and letting retailers set the retail price, incidentally restoring the market in printed books to profitability.

The issue is moot for the moment, since the government has weighed in on the side of low prices but various interests have now gone to court.

Pearlstein leaves out the whole issue of copyright, in the absence of which none of this could have occurred. It is the original monopoly, on the basis of which any other associated monopolies rest. While it is unlikely that Congress will change copyright any time soon, it is important for consumers to know that competitive pricing of books depends on substantially reducing the term of copyright to somewhere between 10 and 20 years.


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