States reach $69 million settlement with three publishers in e-book price fixing case


When the US Department of Justice sued Apple and five major book publishers over alleged e-book price rigging, it immediately became clear that a few of these companies would do just about anything to avoid trial. That same day, three of the publishers — HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Hachette — elected to settle with the DoJ. Now, those same three publishers have reached an agreement in 49 states (all but Minnesota), wherein consumers will receive a combined $69 million in compensation.

Specifically, the payout applies to people who bought agency-priced e-books between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012. Interestingly, the payout applies even to folks who bought e-books from Macmillan and Penguin, even though those two publishers aren’t settling. As for making sure consumers get paid, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google, Sony, Apple and Kobo have agreed to identify and contact affected customers. According to ABC News, most of these retailers will give customers the option of receiving a check or a credit toward future purchases. Sony, meanwhile, will automatically issue checks, while Google will direct customers to an online submission form where they can file a claim. Whatever the method, payments are expected to begin 30 days after the settlement is approved. The DoJ settlement, which is separate from the agreement with the 49 states, is still awaiting clearance.




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5 Reasons to Join a Niche Online Community

Paul Gillin is a writer, speaker, veteran journalist, and online marketing consultant. His website is, and he blogs at

While the rest of the business world hustles to develop outposts on Facebook and LinkedIn, a few savvy marketers are discovering that small is beautiful. That’s because there are several online communities that cater to specific audiences better than social behemoths ever could.

The membership in highly-focused professional communities like Spiceworks and attract B2B companies, which know that success is more about quality than quantity. Professionals with problems to solve seek out others with answers, and niche social networks are often the shortest route to a solution. So if you’re wondering about other pluses, here are five reasons B2B professionals like going small.



1. No Waste

As good as LinkedIn groups are for getting questions answered, navigating many of them can involve picking your way through spam messages and marketing tactics. Most small professional communities are pretty good about controlling this kind of thing. Some, like Sermo (physicians) and PoliceOne (law enforcement), even require people to submit their professional credentials for validation before granting membership.

2. People Speak the Lingo

Professional communities are self selecting. As a result, newbies generally go elsewhere. Visit any of the social networks listed above and scan the discussions. People speak in a code that they understand, even if nobody else does.

A blog entry entitled “New technique ‘amps’ potential for gallium nitride electronics” may not excite many of us, but for several hundred Element14 members, it’s a must-read.

3. Your Stock Rises

Nearly all professional social networks use ranking systems that reward active members for their contributions to the community. The more active people are, the higher their social stock rises.

There are all kinds of benefits to this, including professional advancement, speaking opportunities, and simple bragging rights. People’s colleagues in the workplace may not always appreciate their expertise, but their peers do.

4. Peer Referrals

Many B2B professionals, particularly in technical disciplines, work in highly-specialized fields where new developments are hard to track and like-minded peers are difficult to find. Professional communities are the fastest way to seek out others just like them and tap into the information they’re sharing.

If your job depends on implementing VMware virtualization, you’ll find nearly 1,200 members of a VMware Spiceworks group who are in the same boat. Those members keep each other on top of the latest news and technical advice. Not to mention, an article recommended by a peer carries more weight than a Google search result.

5. Advice You Can Trust

When businesses have important buying decisions to make they seek advice from others who have gone down the same path. They’re more likely to find these early adopters in professional communities than on search engines or consumer-review sites. Vendor and product discussions are popular gathering places in most B2B forums. Do you know what they’re saying about you?

Marketing guru Seth Godin said it best in the title of his 2006 book, Small Is the New Big. Focus your sights on the people you really want to reach. Then go forth and engage.



Apple announces Q3 2012 earnings: $35 billion revenue, $8.8 billion in net profits, declares another dividend

Apple announces Q3 2012 earnings

It’s hard to believe its been just three months since we were here last, but it’s true. It’s already earnings season again and, in the feast of financial conference calls, Apple is an entree. Not surprisingly, Cupertino was raking in the big bucks yet again, but it wasn’t quite the windfall of revenue the company has seen in the past. All told the company pulled in $35 billion in revenue, pocketing $8.8 billion of that as pure profit, a record for both in Q3. But, just cause it wasn’t quite as lucrative a quarter doesn’t mean the boys in Cupertino aren’t happy with the results. Profits were up $1.5 billion from Q3 of 2011, once again allowing the company to declare yet another cash dividend for its share holders. During the last three months the company shipped 17 million iPads, an 84 percent increase over the same quarter last year — a simply staggering number. And don’t think that its other premier gadget has plateaued. 26 million iPhones were also sold, representing a 28 percent increase year-over-year. Interestingly, Mac sales slowed, increasing just two percent over last year, largely thanks to a 13 percent drop off in desktop sales.

The biggest money maker for the company continues to be the iPhone and its related products and services, however. More than $16 billion of the total revenue is directly attributable to the smaller member of the iOS family. The iPad is quickly closing the gap, netting Apple over $9 billion in this quarter alone. As a percentage of revenue, the iPod continued to decline, marking the slow death of the once flagship product line.

While revenues were down sequentially, it’s the year-over-year numbers that tell the real story and that explain why, for the second quarter in a row, Apple is able to award its investors a $2.65 per-share dividend. Revenue was up $9.5 billion from Q3 of 2011 and net income by $1.5 billion, as the company has continued to increase its market share and open up to niches to itself. For the next quarter Apple actually expects a small drop in both revenue and earnings per-share, but not enough that we expect Wall Street types to start yelling, “sell, sell, sell!”

During the earnings call, the company talked up its growth in the educational market in particular. Learning institutions ordered a record number of Macs from the company, with Rutherford County in New Jersey ordering 6,000 MacBook Airs and Pueblo, Colorado’s PS70 has begun migrating all of its students and staff to Airs as well. The iPad isn’t doing so shabby either, with educational institutions ordering one million of them during the quarter, with Mansfield, Texas alone ordering 11,000. The iTunes U program has also enjoyed great success, with 14 million downloads and hundred of new courses being uploaded during the quarter.

Tim Cook also discussed how China has instrumental in Apple’s continued growth. While revenues were down $2.2 billion from the previous quarter in the country they were up roughly 48 percent year-over-year to $5.7 billion. Cook was also quick to point out, however, that those numbers don’t have the benefit of including the launch of the new iPad which only went on sale a few days ago. Europe, on the other hand, has leveled out with only a small growth from Q3 of 2011. Some of that did have to do with the continuing weak economy, particularly in Western Europe.

There was also an acknowledgment that speculations about an iPhone 5 (or iPhone 4SS, or New iPhone…) have impacted sales of the handset during the quarter.


Facebook may start job posting service

Soon the popular social networking site Facebook will become a recruiter, as per knowledgeable sources, by launching its own job board after teaming with existing job-posting companies, the sources said.

Citing anonymous sources, media reports said that BranchOut, Jobvite and Work4Labs will be at least three of the companies that will pair with the platform.

With the rise of LinkedIn – and its aggressive moves into social-networking functionality – having Facebook enter the fray is an obvious play for them.

Facebook may start job posting service

Whether or not the job posts will display in the news feed is unclear.

Many bigger companies have career recruitment presences on Facebook already, but a centralised engine behind job postings and searches would feed the engagement metrics.

According to recent estimates, the job-posting market is worth about USD 4.3 billion and everyone would like to have a piece of it.

Last October, the social networking site initiated its move towards becoming a source for job hunters by teaming up with the US Department of Labor and three employment-related agencies in an attempt to decrease the country’s 9.1 per cent unemployment rate using social media a project that may eventually include a Facebook job posting system.

This partnership started a new era of formal job hunting content on Facebook which some recruiters already prefer over LinkedIn for the first time.

As part of the initiative, Facebook launched a “Social Jobs” portal that makes easily accessible educational content and tools from its partners at the Department of Labor, National Association of Colleges and Employers, Direct Employers Association, and the National Association of State Workforce Agencies.

It plans to promote this page in the 10 states with the highest unemployment rates and Puerto Rico.

The most interesting aspect of the new partnership, however, is a plan to inch Facebook into job listings territory.

Facebook’s statement announcing the partnership mentioned “systems where new job postings can be delivered virally through the Facebook site at no charge.”

What shape such a job posting system would take, and whether Facebook has any solid plans beyond research to pursue one, are still not clear.

A job board that lives on Facebook could put the social network in direct competition with sites like LinkedIn and