I wondered what had ever become of Bob Kohn, the plucky founder of RoyaltyShare who has been complaining all through the Agency Five/Apple antitrust hearings that nobody was paying enough attention to Amazon’s practice of deep discounting bestselling e-books.
Kohn has consistently demanded (in comic book form at one point) the government be forced to turn over evidence relating to its probe into Amazon’s pricing, and that Amazon be required to open its books and show exactly what kind of profits or losses it was taking on e-books—and Judge Cote has consistently turned him down.
Now Andrew Albanese reports at Publishers Weekly that the judge has turned him down again. Nonetheless, he is looking forward to having his day in court, because at this point federal law requires her to hold a hearing.
Judge Cote and the government attorneys have repeatedly pointed out that Amazon is not a defendant in the trial, and the proper avenue for Kohn to have his concerns addressed is to file an antitrust action against Amazon himself.
Amazon has always held (and testified under oath) that, even though it priced some e-books near or below cost as loss leaders, the majority of its catalog has always been profitably priced. It has always been reticent to provide information that could be of benefit to its competitors. It has also long been a favorite target of the publishing industry, due to its shrewd business practices that make it hard for competitors to keep up—which is why the publishers colluded illegally to begin with. So there is certainly plenty of incentive for Kohn to try to make the case about Amazon, even when the judge says it isn’t.
I can’t see Kohn having any more success with Judge Cote than he has been. Perhaps he will have better luck on appeal. It will be interesting to see if he ever does try to file an anti-trust action against Amazon. Regardless, Kohn’s antics have been quite entertaining over the course of the trial, and I’m glad to see he’s still out there regardless of how it turns out for him.