Talk about brilliant: When RoyaltyShare founder Bob Kohn filed a 25-page amicus brief at the conclusion of the most recent chapter of the DoJ e-book price-fixing case, he was told the brief was being rejected by the court. Why? It was too long. (This came as a surprise to Kohn: His 25-page argument was originally 93 pages; he had managed to chop out nearly three-quarters of it already.)

Of course, the court told him, if he wished to submit an amended brief, that would be perfectly fine! Just make sure you keep it to five pages. 

At that point, I suspect most average citizens would have simply throw their hands in the air, sighed loudly, and given up. But Kohn had a different idea: “I thought of the idea of using pictures which, as we know, paint a thousand words,” he said, in an email sent to the New York Times.

You can read reporter Julie Bosman’s story at the Times’ Media Decoder blog, here. But as for the punchline: Kohn literally turned his amicus brief into a five-page comic book. (Or to be more specific, a series of comic strips.) And then he filed it with the court.

To view the entire five-page comic yourself, click here. (PDF)



  1. +50 points for filing this as a comic book.

    – several billion points for reguritating the same tired bullshit about why e-books are a special snowflake and consumers should just bend over, accept Apple’s cash-grab, and be thankful for it.

  2. The last panel portrays a troll-faced girl saying “I’m a novelist, and it’s impossible to tell a complex story in only five pages!” The next page, Bob Kohn closes with “Respectfully submitted.” Mixed messages? I doubt the judge will see the humor in it.

    Peter put it succinctly…very good.

  3. I just don’t get it.

    Call me dumb, I deserve it, but I don’t get the part where that super all powerful Amazon attempted to ruin the e-book market by lowering prices and providing better service then their competitors (I mean, talk about ruthless). And then especially the part where the six largest although admittedly poor and helpless publishers got together with poor little Apple and decided to fix pricing. And now, the DOJ can’t figure out why that’s not in our best interest???

    I just don’t get it. Like how are corporations expected to make profits if they have to deal with competitve markets? Poor, poor publishers, poor, poor, Apple. DOJ get off their backs! And somebody please give them another tax break. It’s only fair, after all corporations are people to, just like you and me. And since they are big and we are small, it only makes sense that they should continue to get big tax breaks while we get the small ones, else, how do we expect them to keep trickling down on us?

    Well, just another reason to not like the goverment.

  4. Somehow, I doubt the judge is going to be terribly impressed with the possible subtext, “I didn’t think you’d understand if I wrote it out, so I drew you a picture.” And I don’t expect all the complaints embedded therein about how cruel and awful it is of the judge to limit him to just five pages (like everybody else who got to file an amicus brief for this hearing—how dare they actually be fair and stuff?) are going to help.

    Honestly, it’s not even that good of a comic. Three and a half pages out of the five are Kohn and his wife as talking heads expositing to each other on a park bench, with the wife granted significantly more in-depth legal knowledge than it seems like she ought to have just for the sake of being able to say “Right you are, Bob!”

    (Put my thoughts in more detail down here.)

  5. @fbr: you forgot the part where Amazon had the unmitigated gall to move e-reading from a fringe to a mainstream activity when the other players were either fumbling it (Sony), ignoring it (the Big Six and the B&M retailers), or writing it off (pun intended) as irrelevant “because nobody reads any more” (Apple). How DARE they invest heavily in a market nobody else is bothering with, grow it, and expect the people who had written it off not to collude against them?

  6. @Peter: Yeah, that’s right. But. how was I gonna see through all that deception? I told you, I ain’t that smart. Anyways not like that clever lawyer fella who wrote the cartoon book. I bet he ain’t even trying to impress them judges, he’s just bound and determined to show all us dumb people how clever he is.

  7. The New York publishers had as much a right to price their books the way they want as Amazon has to sell them or not, or readers to buy or not.

    Collusion in this case has little to no detrimental effect on the public than, say, pricing antibiotics this way would.

    No one ever died from being unable to read Stephen King at $9.99.

  8. @Bill: They can (and historically always have been able) to price their books the way they want. And then the retailer that buys it from the publisher can decide what they want to sell it for. This is still the way that paper books are bought and sold. And the DoJ case doesn’t call out agency pricing as a bad thing – Random House is not included in the suit, and they’re using agency pricing. It calls out the manner in which the 5 publishers and Apple established their pricing. The fact that 6 supposed competitors allegedly worked together to force the market to their desires is the crime, not the pricing system they developed.

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