Publishers pony up $69m in ebook price-fixing settlement
heaven the DoJ for you and me
Three of the publishers accused along with Apple of price fixing in the ebook market have agreed to settle the case for a total of $69m, in a move that could mean a (very small) windfall for consumers in 49 US states and the District of Columbia.
Under the terms of the settlement, Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster will abandon the so-called agency agreements that the US Department of Justice says illegally barred booksellers from selling books at a discount. They'll also pay restitution to each state based on the number of ebooks its residents purchased.
"We will not tolerate publishers colluding to overcharge consumers millions of dollars for some of the most popular e-books," Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said in a statement.
The state attorneys general involved in the case were quick to carve up the $69m pie on Thursday, pointing out exactly how much of that payout would go to their respective jurisdictions.
Hawaii is likely to see only a $300,000 payout, but that's still more than Minnesota will see – it was the only state not to participate in the suit.
Most of that cash will go to consumers, whom the lawsuit alleges paid too much for ebooks during the period between April 1, 2000 and May 21, 2012.
Don't jump for joy quite yet, though. The Christian Science Monitor reports that the actual reimbursements will amount to between 25 cents and $1.32 per book, which hardly covers the difference between the cost of books under agency pricing and the $9.99 Amazon was charging before the agency model went into effect.
Meanwhile, Apple and the two other publishers named in the price-fixing suit – Macmillan and Penguin – maintain that they have done nothing wrong, and that the agency model is the one that offers the best prospects for an open and competitive ebook market.
Their case is heading for trial in 2013, and from the sound of it, the attorneys general are already rubbing their hands.
"Today's settlement paves the way for consumers to receive restitution and promotes retail competition in the e-book market," Suthers said. "Through our ongoing litigation against the remaining defendants, we hope to provide additional restitution to victimized consumers." ®
How is price fixing in the best interest of an open and competitive market?
Personally eBooks are a rip off. There is no printing and distribution costs, no stores or staff, yet cost almost as much as the actual book. If you buy a second hand copy, it can be actually cheaper than the eBook.
Re: Learn something before speaking
Excuse my french but that is bollocks! Go read Walter Jon Williams excellent blog. He has been e-publishing his past works. In some cases he has used pirate versions to save him reformatting them himself. In other cases he has had to reformat from scratch. In the last year he has reformatted and published a fair bit of stuff, and yet still seems able to keep his prices reasonable. I say your reformatting argument is spurious.
In my opinion the publishers charge too much for many ebooks (Iain Banks's being a good example) so I vote with my wallet. If it isn't significantly cheaper than the dead tree book I don't buy it.
Where is Apples fine?
They are at the heart of this deception, scheming and colluding for its own gains, at the expense of consumers.
That wall garden is covered in dogs sh te, and stinks from here!