Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Apple's Negotiator Defends E-Book Talks

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Apple's Negotiator Defends E-Book Talks

Article excerpt

Eddy Cue, a senior vice president for Apple, denied that the company had colluded with publishers to fix e-book prices.

A top executive at Apple who was a close associate of Steven P. Jobs has said that he threw himself into negotiations with the major publishing houses as Apple entered the e-book market because "Steve was near the end of his life."

The executive, Eddy Cue, Apple's lead negotiator with the publishers, said that he had been determined to close deals that would allow the publishers to sell their e-books on the Apple iBookstore in time for the introduction of the iPad in early 2010.

"I wanted to be able to get that done in time for that because it was really important to him," Mr. Cue said, referring to Mr. Jobs. He was testifying Thursday in U.S. District Court in New York in a civil antitrust case brought against Apple by the U.S. Justice Department.

"I pride myself on being successful, but this had extra meaning to me," Mr. Cue added.

Those speeded-up negotiations attracted the attention of the government, which filed a lawsuit against Apple and five publishers in April 2012. Mr. Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, died of cancer in October 2011.

Mr. Cue, the highest-ranking Apple executive to take the stand so far in a trial that began almost two weeks ago, mounted a vigorous defense of Apple, which is accused of colluding with the publishers to fix e-book prices.

Through a nearly full day of testimony Thursday, he denied that he had encouraged publishers to impose a new business model on other retailers, including Amazon.com. Shown a slide displaying what the government has repeatedly called a "spider web" of communications among the publishing executives, Mr. Cue said he had not known that the executives, from publishers including Penguin Group USA and Simon & Schuster, had been talking to one another during their negotiations with him.

"I struggled and fought with them," he said. "If they were talking to each other, I believe I would have had a much easier time getting those deals done."

But he also revealed details of an unusually long and close working relationship between him and Mr. Jobs.

Mr. Cue, Apple's senior vice president for Internet software and services, said he had spoken or e-mailed with Mr. Jobs at nearly every step of the negotiations, once calling him on his way to the airport as he left a round of talks with publishers in New York.

In one e-mail, Mr. Jobs questioned Mr. Cue about the fledgling iBookstore. "Are we going to let anyone self-publish? Does Amazon?" he wrote.

"Yes and yes," Mr. Cue replied.

After publishers signed agreements with Apple, shocking the publishing industry, Mr. Jobs e-mailed Mr. Cue: "Wow, we have really lit the fuse on a powder keg."

The focus of the government's questioning turned to December 2009 and January 2010, when Mr. …

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