DOJ v Apple: Jedi Mind Tricks, Double Deletes and Spiderwebs

In Ed's Perspective by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka, Editor-in-Chief

Scales_of_justiceFollowing the reports on testimony at the Department of Justice trial against Apple for allegedly colluding with five of the then “Big Six” publishers (Random House being the exception) for ebook price fixing has had more than a few moments of entertaining linguistic absurdity.

My favorite so far has been the repeated references to an email from then Amazon executive (and now COO of Random House) Madeline McIntosh’s email reference to “Jedi mind tricks” — the meaning of which has been much debated — in reference to Amazon’s dealings with publishers with regard to Agency.

Then you have the “double deletes” that David Young of Hachette instructed his boss Arnaud Nourry to do, lest someone get ahold of some caustic email.

Finally, you have Judge Denise Cote’s casual reference to “spiderwebs” of communication between Apple and the publishers — a damning characterization if there ever was one.

By paying close attention to these proceedings what you really come away with is an impression of how wickedly competitive this industry is at its highest levels, and how we often labor under illusions as a result of our own contemptuousness: Apple was convinced it could simply assume dominance of the ebook business from Amazon by launching the iPad, while Google — if the on-stand testimony of exec Tom Turvey is to be believed — believes it is not a “powerful company in the media and entertainment space.”

The trial continues next week and God love em’ all — the lawyers, the judge, the executives and the journalists covering the trial — as long days in court can’t be easy to endure, particularly now that it is the beginning of summer.

After its all over, maybe everyone will blame what they’ve said on the heat…

For thorough daily coverage of the trial, we recommend Publishers Lunch and GigaOm.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.