Do book publishers deserve special treatment? Anti-trust experts say no

Gigaom

The publishing industry, roiled by ebooks and Amazon’s (s amzn) behemoth behavior, has been the target of government price-fixing charges. The situation raises the question of whether books are a special cultural product that the law should treat differently than buttons or rubber boots.

According to antitrust experts speaking at a New York book event this week, books should be treated like any other good in the market.

“There’s never been a defendant sued for antitrust who didn’t think their market was special,” said Chris Sagers of Cleveland State University, adding that “agency pricing” (a commission-style pricing system used by the publishers to check Amazon) is just another word for price-fixing.

And according to Ariel Katz, a law professor at the University of Toronto, publishers have been engaging in cartel-like behavior for more than a century. In 1908, for instance, a publisher sued the department store Macy’s for disobeying…

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