MacMillan Reaches Price Ebook Fixing Settlement with DOJ

Seal of the United States Department of Justice

Seal of the United States Department of Justice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have posted about ebook price fixing settlements in the past.  The short version is that the US Department of Justice sued 5 of the 6 major publishing houses as well as Apple for colluding to fix the prices of their books.  That is because they all signed an agreement for what they call Agency Pricing.  Agency pricing said that no one could sell the books at any price other than the price set by the publisher.

By definition this is price fixing.  The publisher said that with ebook, the ebook stores such as Amazon are not actually the retailer, but but an agent for the sales, so it was not price fixing because it is the publishers themselves that are the retailers.

Macmillan was the last of the publishers to reach a settlement with the DOJ according to CNet and other new sources.  Unless there is a settlement prior, Apple is schedule to go trial in June for orchestrating the price fixing agreement.

Amazon announced in October that under the terms of prior settlements, consumers that purchased ebooks under Agency pricing model from April 2010 to May 2012 will be entitled to $0.30 to $1.32 per book purchased depending on a formula that a judge is expected to approve today.

If the hearing occurs and the judge approves the settlement the Amazon credits could be distributed within weeks.  But it is likely that at least one or more of the plaintiffs will appeal and delay the payments.  We should know more today.  The official website for the class action law suit should have details soon.

Regardless as this article notes, the average price of ebooks has been dropping since October 2012.  According to Jeffery Greenfield, the average price of the top 25 selling ebooks dropped from $11.79 in Oct 2012 to $8.09 in January 2013.

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