Speaking engagements can be stressful for publishing professionals. At the annual gathering of the book clan known as BookExpo America, though, any pressure to perform on stage at the Javits Center in New York City is nothing like what some senior book executives will soon in a courtroom nearby.
Given that the U.S. Department of Justice e-book price-fixing case begins this Monday, what Macmillan CEO John Sargent could and could not say at the ABA Plenary: "Publishing, Bookselling, and the Whole Damn Thing” was probably determined by company lawyers. All the same, Sargent -- who is a potential witness in the case, though his firm has settled with the government -- remained characteristically candid with outgoing American Booksellers Association president Becky Anderson, co-owner of Anderson's Bookshops in Naperville, Illinois.
“Sargent called the DoJ action ‘extraordinarily myopic,” and he said [the feds had] ‘carried the water for Amazon, when it had 92% of the market,’” according to Andrew Albanese, Publishers Weekly senior writer. He tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally that Sargent “even added that the senior guys, including Eric Holder, are ‘just incompetent,’ for which he received resounding applause. And despite some goading, he didn't say anything negative about Amazon.”