Blaise Pascal famously wrote, “The letter I have written today is longer than usual because I lacked the time to make it shorter.” Hopefully Royalty Share CEO Bob Kohn has plenty of time. The judge tasked with considering the Department of Justice’s proposed agency pricing price-fixing settlement for three of the Big Six and Agency Five publishers has told him he can submit an amicus brief spelling out his arguments opposing the settlement.
But rather than the 25-page monstrosity (PDF) he filed earlier this month, he has to cut it down to five pages, the same as everybody else is allowed. She permitted the five-page amicus brief (PDF) filed by the Authors Guild on August 15th to be filed unchanged. I guess you can’t blame a guy for trying.
The more legal maneuvering that takes place around this settlement, the more curious I become to see whether the judge really will rubber-stamp it or will send it back to the drawing board. Will she be impressed more by the DoJ’s legal arguments that entities who benefit from the status quo don’t merit consideration in matters of anti-trust? Or will she listen to those who insist that Amazon is the real villain and shouldn’t be allowed to connive its way to a monopoly?
Meanwhile, an article in yesterday’s Morning Coffee, taken from a stock trading newsletter, intrigues me. The author, Peter Larson—who admits that he’s investing in Barnes & Noble and short-selling Amazon—finds it very interesting that one party who has been curiously silent in the whole matter is Amazon itself. It filed no comments in the public comment period, nor has it filed any amicus briefs with the court. It seems to be content to let itself be talked about and argued over, without once speaking up to defend itself.
Larson proposes two possible reasons for Amazon’s silence—either it believes the settlement will be thrown out with or without its intervention, or Amazon is doing well enough with its Kindle sales now that it has no need for the sort of dramatic price cuts it did when the device was first introduced, and indeed now that the Kindle is (rumored to be) sold at a loss it no longer actually wants them. (Or both could be true.)
Whether those are true or Amazon has some other reason for its silence, I’m certainly willing to believe there is one. Jeff Bezos is known for his clever scheming, and Amazon never seems to do anything without a reason. It still remains to be seen what it is, and just how all this is going to play out.