The Steve Jobs email to James Murdoch which figures prominently in the Department of Justice’s pricing fixing case against Apple has been made public.
The quote from the email which reads, “Throw in with Apple and see if we can all make a go of this to create a real mainstream e-books market at $12.99 and $14.99” is supposedly clear evidence that Apple conspired with Murdoch and his HarperCollins publishing division to raise e-book prices.
Notably, it appears the Department of Justice is using the quote out of context.
Put in context, with the other dozen or so sentences in the message that contained it, that line seems a little less damaging. Certainly, it doesn’t quite imply that the two execs are about to embark on a “caper.”
Here’s the larger quote from the email:
Our proposal does set the upper limit for ebook retail pricing based on the hardcover price of each book. The reason we are doing this is that, with our experience selling a lot of content online, we simply don’t think the ebook market can be successful with pricing higher than $12.99 or $14.99. Heck, Amazon is selling these books at $9.99, and who knows, maybe they are right and we will fail even at $12.99. But we’re willing to try at the prices we’ve proposed. We are not willing to try at higher prices because we are pretty sure we’ll all fail.
As I see it, HC has the following choices:
1. Throw in with Apple and see if we can all make a go of this to create a real mainstream ebooks market at $12.99 and $14.99.
You can see the full email below alongside more exhibits from the case.