For a year-and-a-half, Apple has been claiming its innocence in an e-book price fixing case filed by the Justice Department against the tech company and five other book publishers. Though the other publishers settled a while ago, restrictions are just now beginning for Apple.
The Justice Department charged the publishers and Apple in April 2012 for illegally working together to raise the price of e-books as a way to curb Amazon’s success with e-book sales. Apple was the only company that didn’t settle and instead fought the case in a trial this summer. Ultimately, a federal judge in Manhattan ruled against the company.
According to The New York Times, Apple cannot enter into agreements with the five other publishers that “restricts, limits or impedes Apple’s ability to set, alter or reduce the retail price of any e-book,” under the new restrictions. The company is also prohibited from speaking with one publisher about its contract with another publisher. A “monitor” will keep its eyes on the company ,evaluating it and making sure all antitrust laws are followed.
Apple plans to appeal the case.
Though the other companies profess their innocence, why is Apple the only one to fight so hard in court? That’s likely because Apple is the only one with the money to afford it.
Expanding the digital library on your Kindle just got a whole lot cheaper. Amazon announced a new service this week called Kindle Matchbook.
According to Entertainment Weekly, people looking to buy e-books for their Kindle that they’ve already bought in print can now do it through Amazon for a discounted price. Amazon Matchbook applies to any print book a customer has bought from Amazon since 1995, when Amazon first started. Matchbook will allow customers to check their purchase history to see what they’ve bought and buy the books in e-book form for $2.99 (some are even free), rather than paying full-price for the books they already own.
The program is set to launch next month. Amazon spokespeople say it will have 10,000 e-books available for discounted prices.
On a personal note, I think this is a great idea. I’ve always thought it was bad business to have to buy two copies of the same book if you want it on your e-reader. I wondering how long it will take for Barnes & Noble to come up with a similar plan for its Nook?
It’s been months since the e-book pricing lawsuit began. Now that some parties have reached a settlement agreement, people are starting to receive emails from Amazon and Barnes & Noble about receiving e-book refunds.
According to The Telegraph, Amazon was first to send out the emails, explaining that those who purchased e-books that appeared on The New York Times Bestseller List between April 2010 and May 2012 from the web site would receive $1.32 per book. Non-bestsellers would be worth 30 cents in refunds. The refunds aren’t expected to come in until early 2013.
I personally received a similar email from Barnes & Noble about the refunds. Here’s an excerpt:
Although we are required to notify you now of the settlements, there is nothing you need to do to receive the credits as you will receive them automatically in the form of an electronic gift certificate sent via email. Once the settlements’ claim period ends, the Attorneys General will calculate the amount of your credits. If the Court gives final approval to the settlements, we expect to be able to send you your gift certificate in the first half of 2013.
Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster will be compensating for the refunds, since they agreed to the settlement. Penguin Group, Macmillan, and Apple will be taken to court.
A few months ago, I told you about a possible lawsuit involving a number of publishers who allegedly raised e-book prices illegally. I then reported that three of those publishers had reached a settlement. Well now, we know the details of that settlement.
According to the L.A. Times, Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster have agreed to pay a total of $69 million. The lawsuit was brought about when publishers started setting the prices of e-books, instead of retailers; thus, giving themselves a good portion of the sales. Despite the settlement, they don’t admit they’ve done anything wrong, stating “their actions were merely parallel, unilateral, or justified by market forces and completely legal.”
So how does this affect you? It means that if you bought an e-book anytime between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012, you’ll get some money back. However, it probably won’t amount to very much, as Carolyn Kellogg explains.
Publishers will payconsumers $1.32 for each bestselling title they purchased, 32 cents for books that were less than a year old but not bestsellers, and 25 cents for older e-books. Even devoted readers won’t wind up with much more than the cost of a new e-book or two. Conveniently, refunds will appear in e-book buyers’ online accounts on iTunes, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Readers who purchased e-books through Google or Sony’s storefronts will receive a check, and others can opt to. They can also opt not to receive any rebate at all.
I’m thinking I’ll probably get some money back, but based on what Kellogg says, I likely won’t even realize that anything’s been deposited back into my account. What do you guys think? Do you think these publishers have coughed up enough dough? Or not as much as they should have?
Last week, I reported that Apple and a number of other book publishers faced a lawsuit over collusion for e-book pricing. Yesterday, that lawsuit was made official by the U.S. Department of Justice.
According to this article by The New York Times, the DOJ is suing Apple, alleging that the company lowered its e-book prices in the iBookstore in 2010 as a means to fight Amazon’s low pricing. Julie Bosman explains.
At the time, Apple with its blockbuster iPad was trying to challenge Amazon’s hold on the e-book market. Amazon, the online retail giant, had become a kind of Walmart for the e-book business by lowering the price of most new and best-selling e-books to $9.99 — a price meant to stimulate sales of its own e-reading device, the Kindle.
Publishers, looking for leverage against Amazon, saw Apple as their white knight.
Three of the publishers — Hachette Book Group, Simon & Schuster, and HarperCollins — that faced suits have already agreed to settlements. But the fight is far from over. Either way, the Justice Department is looking to ensure that e-book prices are lowered for everyone because “E-books are transforming our daily lives, and improving how information and content is shared. For the growing number of Americans who want to take advantage of this new technology, the Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that e-books are as affordable as possible.”
As the popularity and success of the e-book industry continues to grow, so do the prices of the books, according to a number of readers and more importantly, the U.S. Department of Justice.
According to this article by The Huffington Post, Apple and a number of other top publishers are facing a possible lawsuit regarding collusion, for allegedly raising e-book prices. In addition to Apple, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette Book Group, Penguin Group and Macmillan also faces possible charges.
U.S. and European officials allege Apple and the others raised prices as a means to block rivals like Amazon from being able to offer cheaper books. The “agency model” that was in adopted in 2010 gives publishers the right to set their own e-book prices, giving Apple 30% of the cut. This model eliminated the “wholesale model,” which gave retailers the ability to set their own e-book prices.
And in addition to the new possible Apple is already under fire, dealing with a class-action lawsuit filed by consumers with similar allegations.
I personally haven’t noticed raised e-book prices, but it wouldn’t surprise me if some illegal collusion was going on behind the scenes. What do you guys think? Have you notices a price increase for e-books?