Confederacy of Dunces

Execs from Apple and publishing houses calling each other idiots

June 3, 2013
June 3, 2013

The US government’s antitrust lawsuit against Apple, which had its first day of trial today in New York, is worth keeping an eye on for at least two reasons: 1) The outcome could affect the entire media industry; and 2) The internal emails being presented as evidence of a conspiracy among Apple and five of the world’s largest book publishers are really entertaining.

We’ve already published a fascinating email negotiation between Apple’s Steve Jobs and News Corp.’s James Murdoch. Today, the US Justice Department included a few other emails in its opening statement that are worth highlighting, if only because one rarely ever gets to see this kind of stuff.

‘Idiot’

The first is an email from Eddy Cue, the Apple executive in charge of negotiating with book publishers to sell e-books on the iPad. On Jan. 24, 2010, three days before the iPad’s unveiling, he updated Jobs on the negotiations. News Corp.’s HarperCollins was holding out (as documented in those other emails).

Cue says of Brian Murray, who is still the CEO of HarperCollins: “I actually think he is [an] idiot.”

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‘Incredibly stupid’

After the iPad was announced, Jobs was asked in an interview why someone would buy a $15 e-book from Apple when it could be had on Amazon for just $10. “That won’t be the case,” Jobs said, knowing that Apple’s agreements with the publishers would affect Amazon, too. “The prices will be the same.”

Elisa Rivlin, then the general counsel of Simon & Schuster, one of the publishers that had signed with Apple, forwarded a Publisher’s Marketplace article (paywall) about Jobs’s remark to her CEO, Carolyn Reidy. “I cannot believe that Jobs made the statement below,” Rivlin wrote. “Incredibly stupid.”

Tap image to zoom

Both emails—and much more—can be found in the US government’s presentation from its opening statement, which can be read below:

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