Explore life on our planet with this interactive documentary app

Brian Cox's Wonders of Life is another scientific app based on a show from the BBC, with great video and interactive sections that help you learn the scientific basis for life as we know it. Professor Brian Cox is your guide and narrator as you explore the app.

In the past, I wrote about Wonders of the Universe from the same publisher; an elegant and visually gorgeous app that let you explore our known universe on your iPad.

I liked Wonders of the Universe quite a lot for the ability to explore the universe and the HD graphics (particularly … Read more

Scribd launches digital book subscription service

Scribd, once billed as the YouTube for documents, has joined a handful of other companies dipping their toes into the digital book subscription arena and has signed Harper Collins as its first major publishing partner.

Scribd CEO Trip Adler told CNET that the company has been beta testing the new service with its premium subscribers for several months. Those subscribers, who pay $8.99 a month to access premium content on Scribd, now will have access to the "majority" of HarperCollins US and HarperCollins Christian backlist catalogs. New subscribers to Scribd's digital book subscription service also will … Read more

DOJ: Apple colluded with publishers to raise e-book prices

Apple violated antitrust laws by colluding with book publishers to raise the price of e-books in an effort "to strip retailers of pricing authority," federal prosecutors said in a court filing released Tuesday, according to Bloomberg.

In an antitrust lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice in April 2012, the government accused Apple and five book publishers of conspiring to illegally fix e-book prices to boost profits and force e-book rival Amazon to abandon its discount pricing. All five of the publishers involved -- Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, Simon & Schuster (owned by CBS, which … Read more

Penguin reaches pact with EU to end e-book price-fixing probe

Penguin has vowed to change its pricing strategy for digital books, including terminating an e-book pricing pact with Apple, to resolve an antitrust probe by the European Union.

As part of the deal, Penguin has agreed to terminate existing agency agreements -- those pacts that allow a publisher, not a retailer, to set prices -- and will refrain from adopting "most favored nation" pricing clauses for five years. Those had prevented retailers such as Amazon from undercutting Apple's e-book prices.

If Penguin does enter into new agency agreements, retailers would be free to set the retail price … Read more

News Corp. eyeing HarperCollins merger with Simon & Schuster?

Another merger might be hitting the publishing industry.

News Corp., which owns HarperCollins Publishers, is considering acquiring Simon & Schuster, The Wall Street Journal is reporting today, citing people who claim to have knowledge of the companies' discussions. Simon & Schuster is owned by CBS, the same company that publishes CNET.

At this point, News Corp. hasn't made an offer and a deal "isn't imminent," according to the Journal's sources. However, the move appears to be a response to the recent announcement of a merger between Random House and Penguin Group, two of the larger … Read more

E-book junkie? Amazon may have some money for you

If you've been a regular buyer of Kindle e-books for the last couple of years, Amazon has what might turn out to be a little good news for you.

The company has posted an FAQ about a credit that may become due to certain e-book buyers as a result of antitrust settlements reached in April between the Justice Department and the publishers Hachette, Harper Collins, and Simon & Schuster. (Amazon was not a party to the lawsuit in question, which involved allegations of price fixing between these publishers, two others, and Apple.)

If the settlement deals are approved by … Read more

Publishers' worst nightmare: Amazon again on discount warpath

Last week, HarperCollins, Hachette, and Simon & Schuster cut a deal with the government to settle allegations that the book publishers had colluded with Apple to fix the price of e-books. If you believe the government's charges, the book publishers were trying to prevent Amazon from discounting them to death.

Now it's back to the future. Earlier today came word that Amazon had returned to form, discounting HarperCollins e-books titles.

"We are happy to again be lowering prices on a broad assortment of HarperCollins titles," Amazon spokeswoman Sarah Gelman said in an e-mailed comment to CNET.… Read more

Publishers to pay $69 million over e-book price-fixing allegations

Three major U.S. e-book publishers have agreed to a deal that will see them pay a significant sum for alleged e-book price-fixing.

Connecticut State Attorney General George Jepsen yesterday announced that he, "along with 54 attorneys general in other states, districts, and U.S. territories," have signed a $69 million deal with Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, and Simon & Schuster (which is owned by CBS, the same company that publishes CNET) to settle antitrust claims over an alleged conspiracy to artificially inflate e-book prices.

"While publishers are entitled to their profits, consumers are equally entitled … Read more

Feds want publishers in e-book case to rat on Apple

It's time to drop dime, says the U.S. government.

The U.S. Department of Justice want three of the five book-publishing houses accused of participating in a price-fixing scheme with Apple to start turning over evidence against their alleged co-conspirators, court documents show.

In April, the U.S. Department of Justice accused five of the country's six largest book publishers of conspiring with Apple to raise prices on e-books. The government alleges that the co-conspirators forced e-book retailers, such as Amazon, to adopt a new business model, one that would enable the publishers to snatch control of … Read more

The final frontier is yours to explore on your iPad

Wonders of the Universe -- based on the BBC series of the same name from HarperCollins -- is an elegant and visually gorgeous app that lets you explore our known universe on your iPad. The app comes with more than 2.5 hours of HD video, dazzling 3D graphics of everything from subatomic particles to galaxies, and tons of information to read as you explore, and it offers an excellent use of the iPad's touch-screen interface to browse all the content.

We got a sneak peak at the app, but Wonders of the Universe will not be available until tomorrow in the iTunes App Store. HarperCollins says the app will be at the discounted price of $6.99 initially, but will go up to $9.99 sometime after the launch.

The app starts you off by explaining the touch-screen interface and how to navigate through all of the content.… Read more