Murray and Sargent testify in price-fixing case

Murray and Sargent testify in price-fixing case

HarperCollins signed with Apple iBookstore ahead of its launch because of considerations for the publisher's parent company News Corp's larger relationship with the technology company, according to reports of the e-book price-fixing case yesterday [10th June].

As the second week of the New York e-book price fixing case hearing got underway, HarperCollins c.e.o. Brian Murray said he had been prepared to not sign with Apple ahead of its announcement about the iBookstore. He said: "If I was making this decision at this point in time for only HarperCollins, I would not sign the deal. I would have waited and continued to negotiate."

He added: "I thought the best chance of me getting good terms with Apple was if I was able to engage Amazon or Barnes & Noble in a conversation at the same time, and both of them had told me they were not ready to begin a discussion."

Separate reports focused on Murray's negotiation of an "author out" clause with Apple, whereby not all new releases would sell under the agency model.

He argued that he felt this had "neutered" Apple's Most Favoured Nation Clause, and said in court: "We felt we had [other] options to present to Amazon." According to the report, the Department of Justice lawyers are arguing that publishers were only left with two options for dealing with Amazon, to either move to Apple's agency model or delay Amazon's access to new releases.

Meanwhile, Macmillan c.e.o. John Sargent also took the stand, and was questioned by DoJ attorney Mark Ryan, according to the Publishers Marketplace report.

Ryan asked Sargent in particular about events of 20th January 2010, when he had lunch with Amazon's Russ Grandinetti and dinner with the Apple team. Sargent could not remember the details Ryan asked him about, and brushed away Ryan's suggestions of what might have happened during the conversations as "alien".

Sargent will return to court today for further questioning.