This is more of the age old argument about per se illegal versus rule of reason.
Here is a link to all the documents:
The difference between the two is that per se illegal means that speeding is illegal even if you are driving your wife who is in labor to the hospital. Rule of reason is the idea that every situation is different and the police will let you off easy because it's an emergency.
This is true with economics and with whether collusion is per se illegal or if it depends on the case. Collusion is when two firms get together and talk about prices, business strategies, or any type of sharing of information leading to unfair cooperation and a general lessening of competition.
The question is: has Apple restricted trade? and what action will be taken?
They are accused of "raising consumer e-book prices and restraining retail price competition, in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act" (US v Apple 1).
Basically the realization made in the case is that rule of reason can only be applied in times when per se illegal would actually mean that the product in question might not be available at all. A good example of this is when the market price of the product is actually too low to cover the marginal costs of producing the product. When a firm cannot cover its costs it has to shut down, so that would mean that charging the "fair" price, Price= marginal cost would be impossible. So the Department of Justice (DOJ), who wrote the report thinks that this is NOT one of those cases, so rule of reason cannot be possible.
I agree, so why are they even discussing it? It is possibly that Apple was trying to argue that they had to form a "cartel"? (DOJ's language, not mine).
You may be asking yourself: "Why would Apple's collusion to create unnaturally high prices work when Amazon is still charging $9.99 for almost all e-books?"
This is because Apple probably had arrangements with the publisher: Penguin, Macmillan, and Harper Collins, to name the bigger names. These arrangements essentially mean that when Amazon calls up Penguin to get the new book released on Kindle that maybe Penguin has decided to only do business with Apple because of their collusive agreement. It becomes more profitable for Penguin to only offer that title on Apple's devices because they know that it will sell for more than $9.99.
CNN says that "the deal had Steve Jobs written all over it". http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2012/04/11/the-apple-e-book-conspiracy-three-days-in-january/
Well, maybe people will stop worshiping Steve Jobs now.
Side Note about Book Industry:
Before I decided to educate myself by returning to school I handled orders at an independent bookstore in Aspen, CO. When a bookstore buys a book to sell in their store they generally pay 40% of the cover price. However, Borders and Barnes & Noble got to pay less than that because of the special agreements that have been made between them and the publishers. Sometimes there were actually whole publishers that do not have the honor of doing business with the big chain stores because they refuse to offer the below 40% of the cover price agreements. This means that there are certain books that you just will not find at Barnes & Noble because of the publishers lack of discounts and special treatment.