| I am far more interested in this as a consumer than as an investor.|
I'm more interested from a pragmatic/business ethics standpoint. Dealt with anti-trust nuances most of my life, and not sure that all the implications are helpful, in the long run, for the consumer. And they're all certainly not helpful for companies trying to make a profit and stay in business.
Should a company, publisher in this instance, be allowed to enforce the retail selling price of their product? Why not? The consumer will still provide the market discipline; if they price it too high it won't sell.If its worth a lot, people will pay the price. With a flat retail price structure, the Ma & Pa on line bookstore can compete with Amazon and iBooks. Without that flat retail price structure, Amazon will be ruthless and crush the competition. In fact mostly has, costing 1000's of jobs and destroying good companies. Is this ultimately good for the consumer, even if he has to pay a few $'s more in its absence?
In electronics, manufacturers use MAP (manufacturers advertised price) programs to set uniform retail prices, a loop hole in anti-trust. That's why you'll see everybody advertising the same model number for the same price (this includes Apple). It's never MSRP. I suspect Amazon was so big they took MAP out of play for the publishers.
We're a nation that worships price efficiency, and I'm not sure that it's a good thing for us in the long run. Yes we're squeezing the corporations, but we're also squeezing all the content creators and workers all along the cycle of bringing a product from ideas and raw materials into something tangible that we purchase. We're so constantly squeezing every nickle out of every product, so much so that each of us is constantly squeezing each other, until we all suffer lower wages or compensation for hard work well done.
I see both sides... and I don't think everyone does. Good guys/bad guys in anti-trust is really hard to pin down, and dependent on perspective. I think the laws are imperfect at best and not always in the general public interest... as non intuitive as that seems.
JMHO, thought about this crap a lot over the years.