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Sharis Pozen

DoJ Assistant AG Sharis Pozen

Sharis Pozen
DoJ Assistant AG Sharis Pozen

Get this: The federal bureaucrat who last month started the litigation against Apple and book publishers for ebook pricing is the same person who, back in the stone age, represented Netscape in its lawsuit against Microsoft.

Recall that Microsoft was trying to give away its Internet Explorer to computer users for free. Netscape went nuts and got the government to clobber Microsoft for being so nice to consumers. It put the company through litigation hell and even demanded that Microsoft change its operating system code to untie it from IE.

The person’s name is Sharis Pozen, and she is acting head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division and a political appointee of the Obama administration. She claims that she is threatening state violence against Apple and publishers for pricing collusion — and that it’s her job to protect consumers.

Interesting. She began her career trying to protect the rights of an old-line company to rip off consumers. To her, a price of zero was unfair competition. She was sure that a browser should be a paid product. The progress of history flattens that argument. Today, dozens of companies beg you to download their browser for free. Browser use is all over the place, sort of like a free market. There is no Microsoft monopoly, contrary to the overheated predictions.

Given that history, one might suppose she would retire from public life and maybe go into flower arranging or something. Instead, she is still at it. Last year, she denied a proposed merger between T-Mobile and AT&T that would have improved your cell service. This year, she says that a deal between publishers and Apple is harming consumers, so she has to act.

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Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged iPad App

Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged iPad AppThe Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged book app for iPad has been awarded the App Fiction prize in the 2012 Publishing Innovation Awards. The award was handed out at the recent Digital Book World Conference.

In addition to the novel itself, the app “includes some of Rand’s lectures, additional articles for further reading on Rand and her philosophies, a timeline of events in Rand’s life as well as the works she published, and other materials.” If you own an iOS device, you might want to check it out, but it will cost you $14.99.

In related news, filming for Atlas Shrugged: Part Two is scheduled to begin in April. The first film was not great (see Matthew Alexander’s review) and didn’t do so well financially. It doesn’t bode well that the second film will have a smaller budget and a new director and may have some central characters recasted.

~*~

But back to Apple-related news, one P.J. Rey over at The Society Pages: Cyborgology has an interesting article about “How Cyberpunk Warned against Apple’s Consumer Revolution.” There are at times anti-corporate progressive and Marxist overtones in the article — Rey even references Marx’s notion of “false consciousness” — but nevertheless Rey’s criticism of Apple in light of cyberpunk’s tendency toward individualist anarchism should be of interest to radical libertarians of all stripes.

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  1. In July, Amazon announced that Kindle book sales had surpassed hardback book sales. Analysts pooh-poohed this milestone as paperback sales are far greater than hardback sales. But now Kindle book sales have overtaken paperback sales as well. Amazon is now selling more digital or ebooks in its bookstore now than physical print books. We’ve reached a turning point in the way people read books.

    There is still a ways to go, however, for ereader owners are still buying print books and ereader ownership is still not mainstream. While the adoption of ereaders is spreading, even at an accelerating pace, a recent survey of book shoppers shows that only 21% own one. I don’t own one yet, though I hope to buy an Android tablet in the next year or so.

    I’m not sure print books will ever go the way of the dodo. Print books will increasingly have collector value. Some people may still prefer reading them, if only out of nostalgia for a bygone era. There are ways to add value to a print book as well: high-quality production, handwritten signatures, personal notes, and so on.

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Locus Magazine is starting to take its first steps into the digital age.

For those not in the know, Locus Magazine is, as its subtitle suggests, The Magazine of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Field. It is the pre-eminent magazine covering the genre publishing industry, prose fiction, and conventions, featuring reviews, news, interviews, publishing data, and more.

With the January 2011 issue, which will focus on SF in the digital age, the magazine will publish its first digital edition. The digital editions will be available in pdf format at first. Epub and Kindle editions might come in the future. This is good news to be sure.

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