Apple’s Eddy Cue Gives First Interview on eBooks Antitrust Case

Apple will appear in a federal appeals court in an attempt to overturn the eBook price-fixing ruling in less than two weeks. At the center of that dispute is Apple’s top negotiator, Eddy Cue, who has decided to speak up in an exclusive interview with Fortune.

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You may recall that Apple was accused of instrumenting a rise in eBook prices with the help of the then top five book publishers, with the launch of iBook Store in April 2010. Here is what Apple’s Eddy Cue had to say about the company’s move at the time:

“Is it a fact that certain book prices went up?” asks Cue. “Yes. If you want to convict us on that, then we’re guilty. I knew some prices were going to go up, but hell, the whole world knew it, because that’s what the publishers were saying: ‘We want to get retailers to raise prices, and if we’re not able to, we’re not going to make the books available digitally.’ At the same time, other prices went down too, because now there was competition in the market.”

The five publishers settled before the case went to trial, but Apple didn’t. The case seems to be more about reputation than money, says the Fortune reporter in the light of a potential $450 million loss should Apple lose the appeal.

“We feel we have to fight for the truth,” says Cue. “Luckily, Tim feels exactly like I do,” he continues, referring to Apple CEO Tim Cook, “which is: You have to fight for your principles no matter what. Because it’s just not right.”

The lengthy Fortune article invites us back in time to when the whole story began in 2009. It’s interesting to see how the iPad and the agency model has influenced the publishing market.

When asked if he would do it again, here is what Eddy Cue answered:

“If I had it to do all over again, I’d do it again,” he says. “I’d just take better notes.”

The appeal court will hear Apple’s case on December 15. You can read the full story here.