A comment left on my earlier post (thanks, Anne!) about the Canadian ebook market has revealed that, thanks to an appeal filed by Kobo, said market could be stuck in a pricing limbo well into next year.
As you might recall, earlier this year 4 Canadian publishers ( Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, and Simon & Schuster) announced that they had worked out a settlement with the Canadian Competition Bureau to settle an investigation into what they might have done to bring about agency ebook pricing in Canada.
That settlement was similar in concept to the settlement that some of the publishers reached with EU authorities, and it is had details in common with the settlement in the US between the DOJ and 5 publishers. I won’t go into the details here because I want to skip to the important part.
About a month after the Canadian settlement was announced, Kobo filed an appeal. They argued that having to compete with Amazon would kill their business, and they were awarded a temporary stay to give them a chance to argue their case.
All this happened 6 months ago, and i don’t know about you but I had not heard a peep about this story. So when new details crossed my desk I was eager to report on the news.
Alas, there isn’t anything new that is worth reporting. The only new development is that the Canadian Competition Tribunal has released a ruling which detailed exactly how one should interpret a particular section of the Canadian Competition Act. That ruling was so arcane that I had to contact the Canadian Competition Bureau to ask what it meant and find out what was going on.
I’m still not sure what the ruling means, but I was told that Kobo’s appeal, the one which could vary or stay the consent agreement signed by the 4 publishers, is still unresolved. It’s not scheduled to go to court until 15 May 2015.
Yes, May 15th, 2015 (5 months and 11 days before Marty McFly shows up in a flying DeLorean). And even that date is not set in stone; I’m told it has been suspended and that a new date will have to be set.
In short, Kobo has managed to stall the end of Agency pricing in Canada for at least a year.
Meanwhile, I’m told the Canadian Competition Bureau is still investigating the publishers to see if they violated the Competition Act in bringing Agency ebook pricing to Canada. That investigation was exactly what the publishers wanted to avoid, and it’s why they settled earlier this year. I don’t think they’re happy about it continuing or what it might find, do you?
image by Free Grunge Textures