Thursday, October 2, 2008

eBooks In Germany: Price-Fixing And Sony Reader

Really, I expected better from the Germans. But it looks like they've gone to court to enforce some years-old law that would force eBooks to have the same price as printed books.

Börsenverein: Buchpreisbindung gilt auch für E-Books
Exchange Club: Book pricing also applies to E-Books [Google machine English]
Wer Bücher in elektronischer Form herunterladen will, wird auch in Zukunft nicht viel Geld sparen können. In einer heute veröffentlichten Stellungnahme betont der Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, dass die in Deutschland gesetzlich festgelegte Buchpreisbindung auch für E-Books gelte. Die Interessenvertretung will diese Auffassung notfalls gerichtlich durchsetzen.

Machine English:
Who books in electronic form to download, will also not much you can save money. In an opinion published today underlines the Association of German Publishers and Booksellers that in Germany the statutory book prices for e-books is true. The lobby wants the court considers necessary, to enforce.

Emphasis added by me.

If there is any doubt about this, here's a prior article about Amazon being sued for offering discounts on books prices:

Court bans books and discounts from [Google machine English]
The two transit bookseller and have in the opinion of the Appeal (OLG) Frankfurt am Main book prices against the law by illegally to their customers discounts when buying books acknowledged. In the case of, the "Five-euro voucher start" negotiating for new customers, while the court has offering bonus miles banned.

Apparently there are no restraint of trade laws in Germany. At least none that seem to apply to books!

Here's a month-old article I just came across about the Sony Reader coming to Germany in 2009:

Sony e-book reader comes to Germany [Google machine English]
The Sony Reader is expected in the first half of 2009, after Germany. The Frankfurt Book Fair in October 2008 Sony will announce partners, which are then suitable content for the device will offer. It requires the group to cooperate with various publishers and wants this enthusiasm for the device.

The legal requirement for eBooks to have the same price as printed books will stunt the acceptance and growth of eBooks. I wonder if some publishers will wake up and issue eBook-only books? Perhaps even bring the backlist to life only as eBooks. Those moves would give the German court a nice -- and deserved! -- headache!

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