September 23, 2021

Outcome of E-Book Case Could Hurt Competition, Apple Lawyer Says

Orin Snyder, a lawyer at Gibson, Dunn Crutcher who represents Apple, made that point in a Manhattan courtroom on Thursday, the last day of the three-week antitrust trial. He told Judge Denise L. Cote of United States District Court that if Apple was found liable for conspiring with publishers to raise e-book prices, “that precedent will send shudders through the business community.”

In the future, he said, retailers negotiating with content providers might then feel pressured to “not utter a word” about their discussions with other companies and offer substantially different terms to each party.

He said that in negotiations, businesses typically inform one competitor what another competitor is willing to do. “It is perfectly lawful to do all of that,” he said.

In its antitrust case brought a year ago, the federal government accused Apple of being the “ringmaster” in a conspiracy with five big book publishers to raise e-book prices across the industry. Before Apple entered the market in early 2010, Amazon controlled 90 percent of e-book sales, and the publishers were not happy with Amazon’s uniform price of $9.99 for e-books. The publishers have all settled their cases, but Apple has said it is fighting as a matter of principle because it has done nothing wrong.

Much of the debate at the trial has centered on a condition, known as the “most-favored-nation” clause, that Apple made in its contracts with publishers. It guarantees that if a publisher offers an e-book at a lower price to one retailer, the book will cost the same in Apple’s e-book store. The Justice Department argues that Apple and the publishers used the most-favored-nation clause to defeat price competition and pressure Amazon to change the way it sold books and raise its prices as well.

On Thursday, as the lawyers wrapped up their arguments, Judge Cote peppered both Apple and the government with questions.

Several of her questions to the government revolved around one thought: why would Apple want to change the industry’s business model? Mark W. Ryan, a lawyer for the Justice Department, argued that Apple believed its iPad hardware was so ahead of anyone else’s, it wanted to eliminate price competition in the e-book market so that the iPad could compete with the Amazon’s Kindle solely on hardware, not book prices.

Mr. Ryan noted that the government’s concern was not solely the most-favored-nation clause, but the way that Apple and the publishers deliberately used the clause to force Amazon’s hand. “It’s the collusion to move the market to the place where competition would not otherwise take it,” he said.

If Amazon had continued the way it sold books under what is called the wholesale model — where publishers charged retailers about half the cover price for a book and Amazon sold the books for $9.99 — then the retailers would have lost a substantial amount of money selling the books for $9.99 to Apple because Apple takes a 30 percent cut.

That, Mr. Ryan said, is why the publishers understood they had to collectively force Amazon into the agency model, where the publishers, not the retailers, set the price of the books. They could use the most-favored-nation clause to put pressure on Amazon while also threatening to delay the release of their e-books until after the more expensive hardcover versions had been on the market for a while, he said.

Judge Cote challenged the government’s interpretation that Apple was deliberately scheming to help the publishers raise prices. Allowing them to raise their prices in Apple’s e-book store could be viewed as a “sales pitch” to get the publishers to agree to sign on with Apple in the month and a half leading up to the iPad introduction, she said.

In Apple’s closing statements, Mr. Snyder spent most of his time trying to illustrate that Apple fought “tooth and nail” with the publishers before cementing the contracts. He showed e-mails between Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet software and services, and the chief executives of the big publishers that demonstrated they were negotiating rather than cooperating.

Judge Cote asked Mr. Snyder whether Apple took the position that it had not understood that the publishers were forming a collective effort to raise prices industrywide, when the fact they were working together seemed obvious from articles published by The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Those articles said a group of publishers had announced plans to “window,” or delay, the release of e-books.

Mr. Snyder said that the articles just showed how business was done, and that they did not prove that the publishers were already conspiring. “When one company does one thing, the other companies take notice and do the same thing,” he said.

The big question surrounding the trial is whether there will be a change to the way businesses negotiate if Apple loses, as Mr. Snyder suggested. Charles E. Elder, an antitrust lawyer at Irell Manella, which is not involved in the case, said that most-favored-nation clauses present unusual challenges under antitrust laws. While they ensure a customer gets the best deal, they can discourage price-cutting because the consequence of lowering prices for one retailer will be lowering prices for other retailers protected by the clause.

Mr. Elder said that he “would be very surprised” if the judge found Apple’s most-favored-nation clause illegal, and that he was not aware of any case where such a thing has happened. He said this antitrust case was based on the theory that the most-favored-nation clause resulted from a price-fixing conspiracy among the publishers that was furthered by Apple. If the judge holds Apple liable, he said, this case will be unlikely to have a “revolutionary impact” on businesses.

“Horizontal conspiracies to fix prices have always been illegal,” Mr. Elder said.

Judge Cote is expected to write her decision in the coming weeks.

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Relative Unknown Chosen to Direct ‘Fifty Shades’

It was coveted by a range of big-time filmmakers, but a woman from the cinematic minor leagues won the job: Sam Taylor-Johnson will direct the film adaptation of the best-selling erotic novel “Fifty Shades of Grey,” Universal Pictures and its arthouse division, Focus Features, announced on Wednesday.

The selection of Ms. Taylor-Johnson, 46, to handle the project was surprising because her résumé is slim; her only previous feature-length directing effort was in 2009, with “Nowhere Boy,” which took in $6.6 million at the box office.

But “Nowhere Boy,” a look at John Lennon’s adolescence, won strong reviews. One of her short films, “Love You More,” was also critically acclaimed.

“Sam’s unique ability to gracefully showcase complex relationships dealing with love, emotion and sexual chemistry make her the ideal director,” Michael De Luca, a producer of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” said in a statement.

Written by E L James, the book version of “Fifty Shades of Grey” became a publishing sensation because of its depiction of kinky sex, selling roughly 70 million copies in print and e-book formats worldwide. The novel follows the dominant-submissive relationship between a Seattle billionaire, Christian Grey, and Anastasia Steele, a college student.

“For the legions of fans, I want to say that I will honor the power of Erika’s book and the characters of Christian and Anastasia,” Ms. Taylor-Johnson said in a statement. “They are under my skin, too.”

Ms. Taylor-Johnson, who is British and is married to the actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson (“Nowhere Boy,” the “Kick-Ass” series), and Universal will now turn to casting the lead roles.

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Apple Executive Defends Pricing and Contracts in Antitrust Case

“Wow, we have really lit the fuse on a powder keg,” Mr. Jobs wrote in the e-mail dated Jan. 30, 2010, to Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet software and services.

The e-mail was brought up as evidence during the second half of Mr. Cue’s testimony in a Manhattan courtroom on Monday, where much of the discussion focused on whether Apple intended to help the publishers raise Amazon’s prices.

Mr. Cue testified Monday that Mr. Jobs’s e-mail was not a memo congratulating him about how Apple’s entry into the e-book market affected Amazon, causing it to switch to a business model called agency pricing, where the publishers, not the retailer, set the price of the books. (In the case of many new releases and best-sellers, the publishers chose to raise prices.) Instead, Mr. Cue said, Mr. Jobs was remarking on the company’s ability to “cause ripples” in the e-book industry, which was then largely dominated by Amazon.

While Mr. Cue conceded that some e-book prices went up as a result of agency pricing, he noted that many titles might not have become available in any digital store at all if Apple had not introduced agency pricing to the market. He said he learned from his meetings with publishers that they were unhappy with Amazon’s uniform $9.99 pricing for e-books and that they were planning to use on new releases a tactic known as windowing — delaying the release of a title’s e-book until after the more expensive hardcover had been in stores for a while.

Mr. Cue testified that both he and Mr. Jobs believed that “withholding books is a disaster for any bookstore.”

The Justice Department was not persuaded by this argument. Lawrence Buterman, a Justice Department lawyer, asked Mr. Cue whether he was aware that only 37 e-books had ever been windowed. Mr. Cue said he had no data on the number of e-books that were windowed, but he argued that it was an irrelevant point because the issue was that the publishers could delay sales of e-books.

“The number doesn’t matter,” Mr. Cue said. “What matters is which books. Thirty-seven could be a huge number if it’s the right books.”

Throughout the testimony, Apple’s presentation of e-mails and evidence was notably smooth compared with the government’s. Both parties showed their evidence on a projector screen. A member of Apple’s legal team was using a MacBook to artfully shuffle between evidence documents, stacking them side by side in split screens and zooming in on specific paragraphs when needed.

In contrast, the Justice Department’s lawyers could show only one piece of evidence at a time on the screen. One video that Mr. Buterman played as evidence failed to produce the audio commentary needed to make his point. Judge Denise L. Cote of the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York provided some comic relief when she asked whether the government lawyers were using a Mac. The Justice Department said it was a Hewlett-Packard computer.

In its antitrust case brought a year ago, the federal government is trying to cast Apple as the ringmaster that conspired with five big book publishers to raise e-book prices. The publishers have all settled their cases.

On Monday, the Justice Department’s lawyers homed in on a condition in Apple’s contracts with the publishers: the “most favored nation” clause, which required publishers to allow Apple to sell e-books at the same price as the books would be sold in any other store. Apple has said this clause existed to guarantee that Apple customers got the lowest e-book prices. But Mr. Buterman argued that it defeated Amazon’s ability to compete on price, and that it left Amazon with no choice but to switch to the agency model while allowing the publishers to raise prices.

Mr. Cue said he disagreed. He noted that Amazon had 90 percent of the e-book market before Apple entered the game, so it should have had other options.

“Amazon could have negotiated a better deal,” he said. “They had a lot more power.”

Lawyers for Apple and the government spent much of the hearing debating whether the e-mails exchanged between Apple executives and publishers illustrated Apple’s intent to help the publishers force Amazon’s hand. In one e-mail sent to Mr. Jobs, Mr. Cue was reviewing his meeting with the publishers, saying they were interested in solving the “Amazon issue.”

Mr. Cue said he was referring to the publishers’ ability to price books above Amazon’s uniform price of $9.99 in Apple’s iBookstore. Apple had proposed price caps of $12.99 to $14.99 for new releases. But he said this did not refer to enabling the publishers to force Amazon to raise prices, too.

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David Leonhardt, Washington Bureau Chief, Answers Readers’ Questions

Mr. Leonhardt is the author of the e-book, “Here’s the Deal: How Washington Can Solve the Deficit and Spur Growth,” published by The Times and Byliner. Previously, he wrote the paper’s Economic Scene column.

Below are answers to selected questions.

So presidents make their State of the Union speech then hit the road to sell it. Wouldn’t it be more effective to just stay in D.C. and do the heavy lifting of pushing Congress off of square one?

— HLB Engineering, Mt. Lebanon, PA

A. My colleague Michael Shear writes from Georgia, where is he reporting on President Obama’s trip today:

Recent presidents have made a habit of getting out of Washington to pitch their State of the Union ideas in front of largely friendly crowds who can — the White House hopes — put some political pressure on the lawmakers in Washington. Bill Clinton did it after proposing health reform (with little success). George W. Bush did it, too, after proposing Social Security changes (also with little success).

For Mr. Obama, staying in Washington is exactly what he doesn’t want to do. He and his aides became frustrated in his first year by the endless health care negotiations that made him feel trapped in the weeds of a political process for which Americans don’t have good feelings. The White House staff and the president have concluded that more time outside Washington will actually help the gridlocked process of legislating, by potentially putting political pressure on legislators.

There is a downside, though. The visits have a decidedly campaign-like feel that can lend credence to the accusation that the president is more concerned about political appearances than the business of governing. Mr. Obama has concluded that risk is worth it. But it’s not clear from recent history that the trips have actually helped achieve a president’s goals.

When the debt was the largest in history as a percent of GDP, in 1946, we had 27 years of mostly deficit spending. The debt in dollars doubled. But we had prosperity. Why don’t we do that today?

— Len Charlap, Princeton, NJ

A. You’re right that a country can have deficits and still pay down its debt, so long as the deficits are small enough and economic growth fast enough. And you’re right that some government spending plays a crucial role in creating economic growth. The most important programs seem to be investments — in education, scientific research, roads, bridges and the like — that the private sector won’t do on its own.

The Internet, the radio, the jet engine, much of biotechnology and the technique for extracting a form of natural gas known as shale gas all owe their beginnings to federal spending. This history is a major theme in “Here’s the Deal.”

But government spending and debt most certainly do not ensure prosperity. Federal debt is already high. The projections showing that annual deficits will fall in the next few years depend on some assumptions that may prove rosy. And as more baby boomers retire and health costs keep rising, projected deficits are projected to rise again, sharply, in coming decades.

As heartening as the recent progress on the deficit may be, the country still faces substantial long-term fiscal problems. If we don’t deal with them, we are likely to have an economy that looks nothing like the prosperous economy after World War II.

Congressional Republicans recently decided against using the debt limit as a lever to force President Obama to enact spending cuts he wouldn’t otherwise go along with. Is there any indication that Republicans will agree to a longer-term extension once the current limit is reached?

— Eric, Washington, DC

A. It’s hard to know, but it’s possible that the debt-ceiling fights will not continue. In the past, the extension of the debt ceiling tended to be an opportunity for the party that didn’t hold the White House to grandstand about the deficit and debt. (President Obama, somewhat famously, did so in 2006.) In the end, though, the extension tended to pass without any concessions from the president.

In 2011, Congressional Republicans successfully negotiated such concessions from Mr. Obama. In recent months, he made clear that he would not negotiate over the debt ceiling again, citing the economic damage from the uncertainty over the last extension. Republicans have gone along, at least temporarily.

Polls suggest the last fight hurt Republicans more than Democrats, which suggests Republicans may ultimately agree to a long-term extension or simply a series of short-term extensions. On the other hand, they were indeed able to win some spending cuts in 2011, so some in the party continue to see the debt ceiling as a powerful tool.

The most cliched last line in journalism — the kicker, as we say — is: Time will tell. I can’t think of another kicker here.

Why has the administration given so much focus to gun control in the past few weeks? With a Republican majority in the House and the fact that many Democrats would also vote against advanced gun control measures, would this kind of legislation have a chance of passing the House or the Senate?

— Matthew, Athens, GA

A. Unlike past mass shootings, the killings in Newtown, Conn., shifted the national debate. Public opinion changed modestly, and Democrats who favor more gun control became more willing to push for it.

As you note, most Republicans and some Democrats oppose sweeping new measures, which is why an assault-weapons ban still seems unlikely. But some other measures may be able to win overwhelming support from Democrats and enough from Republicans to pass both the House and Senate. The two leading candidates are an expansion of criminal background checks on people buying guns and a new federal trafficking law to block criminal purchases.

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U.S. Settles With Macmillan in E-Books Case

Macmillan and the Justice Department filed the proposed settlement, which requires a judge’s approval, in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

A small firm that is also known as Holtzbrinck Publishers LLC, Macmillan was the lone holdout among five publishers that the government sued in April 2012. Three publishers settled immediately and the fourth, Pearson Plc’s Penguin Group, settled in December.

The Justice Department will continue to litigate conspiracy allegations against Apple Inc, the department said in a statement. It accuses Apple of conspiring with the publishers to raise prices and fight the dominance of Inc.

Apple rejects the allegations, saying it did not collude but signed agreements with publishers individually. Apple has also said in court papers that the government’s suit “sides with monopoly, rather than competition,” by shoring up Amazon’s early advantage in electronic books.

A civil trial for Apple is scheduled to begin in June.

Bookseller Barnes Noble Inc has sided with Apple, telling the federal court that it, too, is concerned about a monopoly by Amazon.

Macmillan Chief Executive John Sargent was a defiant critic of the suit, saying when it was filed that his company did not collude and that settlement terms required by the Justice Department “would have a very negative and long term impact on those who sell books for a living.”

Sargent did not immediately return a message left at his office on Friday. Macmillan is a unit of Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH, based in Germany.

Under the proposed settlement agreement, Macmillan must lift restrictions on discounting by e-book retailers and must report to the Justice Department its communication with other publishers.

Justice Department lawyers “expect the prices of Macmillan’s e-books will also decline,” as happened after settlements with the other publishers, Jamillia Ferris, chief of staff of the department’s Antitrust Division, said in the news release.

(Editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Nick Zieminski and Dan Grebler)

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Media Decoder Blog: Arthur C. Clarke E-Books for Sale in U.S.

Thirty-five titles by the celebrated science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, the author of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” among other classics, will be released in digital form for the first time in the United States, the independent e-book publisher RosettaBooks said on Wednesday.

The e-books are on sale now.

The eBook collection will include, of course, Mr. Clarke’s two best known works, “2001,” which was the basis of the later Stanley Kubrick film, and “Childhood’s End,” about how aliens bring about an evolution in the human race.

RosettaBooks said each work from Mr. Clarke, who died in 2008 at age 90, would sell for $8.99.

Among the other volumes for sale are the rest of the odyssey series: “2010: Odyssey Two,” “2061: Odyssey Three,” “3001: The Final Odyssey” and the novels “Dolphin Island,” about an odd community that studies marine mammals — it also became a video game — and “The Sands of Mars.”

Leslie Kaufman writes about the publishing industry. Follow @leslieNYT on Twitter.

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Media Decoder Blog: Awaiting Merger With Random House, Penguin Settles E-Book Case

Penguin, trying to ensure a clean slate before its planned merger with Random House, announced on Tuesday that it was settling a lawsuit brought by the Justice Department over the pricing of e-books.

In a statement, the company said, “Penguin has always maintained, and continues to maintain, that it has done nothing wrong and has no case to answer.”

Nevertheless, the company said, it was agreeing to settle because of the impending merger of Random House, a division of the German media company Bertelsmann, and Penguin, a division of the English conglomerate Pearson. That deal, in which Bertelsmann will assume 53 percent control of the new company, was announced in October. The publishing industry is beginning to consolidate to try to better meet the online challenge from Amazon.

The company wrote in its statement, “It is also in everyone’s interests that the proposed Penguin Random House company should begin life with a clean sheet of paper.”

In April, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit accusing five major publishing houses and Apple of conspiring to fix the price of e-books. These five had moved from a wholesale pricing model that allowed retailers to charge what they wanted to a system that allowed publishers to begin setting their own e-book prices, a model known as “agency pricing.”

The publishers had looked for a way to prevent Amazon from pricing books below their actual cost, which they said would hurt the industry over time. But the government said the publishers conspired in e-mails, in telephone conversations and at lavish dinners to keep e-book prices artificially high.

Three big publishing houses — HarperCollins, Simon Schuster and Hachette — settled with the Justice Department, but Penguin, Macmillan and Apple decided to fight the charges, until Penguin reversed course on Tuesday.

In the terms of a settlement that a judge approved in September, the three publishers that settled agreed to end contracts with Apple and with e-book retailers that contained restrictions on their ability to set prices, and agreed not to make such restrictive contracts for the next two years.

In May, when Penguin filed its response in United States District Court in New York, it said that Amazon treated books as “widgets.” It described Amazon as “predatory” and “monopolist,” and said that the government’s case was based on “innuendo.”

Penguin said that it still believed that agency pricing was legitimate. “Penguin continues to believe that the agency pricing model has encouraged competition among distributors of both eBooks and eBook readers and, in the company’s view, continues to operate in the interest of consumers and author,” the company said in its statement.

The terms of the settlement were not available, but people with knowledge of the details said that they were the same as those received by the other three publishers.

This post has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: December 18, 2012

Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this post carried an erroneous byline.

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Quick and Easy Shopping for Tablet Users

The makers of these devices have added to their software the capability to send personalized gifts, easing the strain on gift-givers and perhaps also ending the era of handing out less thoughtful gift cards. Each system varies, though, in how to give the gift and what can be given. Here is a primer on how to give gifts to your favorite owners of the most popular tablets.


Since its introduction in 2010, the iPad has become by far the dominant tablet on the market. To send music, videos, audio books and apps as gifts, you need to download iTunes to your computer, or use your iPhone or iPad to gain access to the iTunes store, and register with an account name and password.

When you find the gift you want to buy, click the arrow to the right of the Buy button and choose the Gift option. It will send you to the Give a Gift page, where you can fill in the recipient’s name and e-mail address, and send a message.

You can e-mail the gift as a link or print it out and give it in person. Recipients simply click on the link and the song, album, television show, movie or app will download to their iTunes library, ready to play or sync to an iPod, iPhone, iPad or Apple TV. For more details, see the gift information on the iTunes Web site.


The Kindle Fire, just introduced in November, is expected to move Amazon into second place in the global media tablet market this quarter, with a 13.8 percent share of the market, according to IHS iSuppli research. ISuppli predicts that nearly four million Fires will be sold through year-end. The firm predicts that Apple will ship an estimated 18.6 million iPads in the quarter for a commanding 65.6 percent share.

The Kindle line also includes dedicated e-book readers — Kindle, Kindle Touch and Kindle Touch 3G.

To give electronic books for Kindle owners, visit the Kindle Store, and use the Give as a Gift option there. You must have or sign up for an Amazon account to complete the transaction.

For books, you can send your gift through e-mail, and the recipient can read it on his or her Kindle, on a free reading app on a mobile device or on Kindle’s Cloud Reader. If recipients already own the book they received, they can exchange it by using an Amazon gift credit.

To send music through Amazon’s MP3 store, the process is the same. In a few steps, the recipient can download and listen on an MP3 player or on Amazon’s Cloud Player. (The player is a browser-based digital music player that gives a listener access to music stored on his or her own free and secure Amazon Cloud Drive.) At the moment, the only way to designate a gift for apps and video to be played on the Fire is through Amazon’s Gift Cards, which can be bought and delivered by physical mail (if there’s enough time), by e-mail or by Facebook (if you link your Amazon and Facebook accounts), or can be printed out to present in person. A brief personalized message can be added to describe your intended gift.

Barnes Noble

The book retailer now has three tablets — Nook Simple Touch, Nook Color and its latest Nook Tablet, which competes directly with the Kindle Fire. IHS iSuppli predicts that the company will ship 1.3 million tablets this quarter, coming in fourth place just behind Samsung.

With the new Instant Gifting feature on its Web site, Barnes Noble allows you to give Nook books and apps, including the time-eating favorites Angry Birds, Scrabble and Solitaire. Gifts can be sent instantly through e-mail.

Your eGift recipient is notified by e-mail and can claim the gift by clicking on the included link. Once the gift is accepted, the recipient can get to the book or app through his or her Nook Library. Books can be read on a Nook, or on a free Nook Reading app for smartphones, computers and mobile devices. Apps can be retrieved only on a Nook Color or Nook Tablet.

Barnes Noble also offers eGift Cards for other purchases. If you buy the wrong book or app, don’t worry. Recipients can exchange Nook books and apps for an eGift Card.


The now-defunct Borders once held a small stake in Kobo, which may be how some people are familiar with the brand. But Kobo, a Canadian e-reading company, has other backers and is continuing to offer new products like the Kobo Vox. The Vox features a multimedia screen optimized for reading outdoors, and gives owners access to the Web, e-mail, music, video and thousands of Android apps.

Kobo has a supporting cast of devices, including Kobo Touch, Kobo Touch with offers and sponsored screens, and Kobo Wi Fi.

Kobo, too, allows you to send electronic books as gifts. Visit the Web site, browse the store, purchase a title and send it electronically with a personalized Kobo holiday e-mail that can be delivered on a specific date.

For other gifts, Kobo offers eGift Cards. Customers can define the amount they would like to give and send the gift electronically. Recipients can read their e-books on all platforms on which Kobo is available, including Apple products, BlackBerry, Android, computers and other devices.

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Mass-Market Paperbacks Sales in Decline

Recession-minded readers who might have picked up a quick novel in the supermarket or drugstore are lately resisting the impulse purchase. Shelf space in bookstores and retail chains has been turned over to more expensive editions, like hardcovers and trade paperbacks, the sleeker, more glamorous cousin to the mass-market paperback. And while mass-market paperbacks have always been prized for their cheapness and disposability, something even more convenient has come along: the e-book.

A comprehensive survey released last month by the Association of American Publishers and the Book Industry Study Group revealed that while the publishing industry had expanded over all, publishers’ mass-market paperback sales had fallen 14 percent since 2008.

“Five years ago, it was a robust market,” said David Gernert, a literary agent whose clients include John Grisham, a perennial best seller in mass market. “Now it’s on the wane, and e-books have bitten a big chunk out of it.”

Fading away is a format that was both inexpensive and widely accessible — thrillers and mysteries and romances by authors like James Patterson, Stephen King, Clive Cussler and Nora Roberts that were purchased not to be proudly displayed on a living room shelf (and never read), but to be addictively devoured by devoted readers.

“In those days, you could easily ship out a million copies of a book,” said Beth de Guzman, the editor in chief of paperbacks for Grand Central Publishing, part of the Hachette Book Group. “Then shelf space started decreasing and decreasing for mass market, and it has especially declined in the last several years.”

For decades, the mass-market paperback has stubbornly held on, despite the predictions of its death since the 1980s, when retail chains that edged out independent bookstores successfully introduced discounts on hardcover versions of the same books. The prices of print formats are typically separated by at least a few dollars. Michael Connelly, the best-selling mystery writer best known for “The Lincoln Lawyer,” said he worried that book buyers would not be able to discover new authors very easily if mass-market paperbacks continued to be phased out.

“Growing up and reading primarily inexpensive mass-market novels, it allows you to explore,” he said. “I bought countless novels based on the cover or based on the title, not knowing what was inside.”

The growth of the e-book has forced a conversation in the publishing industry about which print formats will survive in the long term. Publishers have begun releasing trade paperbacks sooner than the traditional one-year period after the release of the hardcover, leaving the mass-market paperback even further behind.

Cost-conscious readers who used to wait for the heavily discounted paperback have now realized that the e-book edition, available on the first day the book is published, can be about the same price. For devoted readers of novels, people who sometimes voraciously consume several books in a single week, e-books are a natural fit.

“It’s a question of, do you still want to wait for the book?” said Liate Stehlik, the publisher of William Morrow, Avon and Voyager, imprints of HarperCollins. “The people who used to wait to buy the mass-market paperback because of the price aren’t going to wait anymore.”

That could be good news for authors who make up for a loss in mass-market sales with increases in e-book sales. Generally speaking, authors make more royalties on an e-book than on a paperback.

E-book best-seller lists are packed with the genre novels that have traditionally dominated paperback best-seller lists.

“In some ways, the e-book is yesterday’s mass market,” said Matthew Shear, the executive vice president and publisher of St. Martin’s Press, which currently has books by Janet Evanovich and Lora Leigh on the paperback best-seller list in The New York Times.

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Bucks: Friday Reading: Caribbean Hotels Offer Summer Deals

May 06

Friday Reading: Caribbean Hotels Offer Summer Deals

Luxury Caribbean hotels offer great summer deals, taking children to pricey Broadway shows, Al Gore invents a cool e-book and other consumer-focused news from The New York Times.

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