Penguin abandons Apple in anti-monopoly book fight with US DOJ

Karen Haslam
20 December, 2012
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Apple and Macmillan are the only companies left fighting the US Department of Justice allegations that Apple and book publishers collaborated in fixing prices of eBooks on Apple’s iBookstore.

Penguin has decided to join the Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster in agreeing to settle.

According to the DOJ, as part of the settlement Penguin has agreed to terminate its current contracts with Apple and promised not to prevent other retailers from offering discounted Penguin e-books for two years, reports Cnet.

In a suit filed in April, the DOJ alleged that Apple conspired with book publishers to raise prices of electronic books. According to the lawsuit: “Millions of ebooks that would have sold at retail for $9.99 or for other low prices instead sold for the prices indicated by the price schedules included in the Apple Agency Agreements – generally, $12.99 or $14.99.”

Apple claims that the publishers were not happy with Amazon’s pricing tactics and wanted to set their own prices in the iBookstore. The company also claims that the DOJ has sided with monopoly rather than competition in bringing a case of ebook price-fixing against Apple.

In Europe, investigations have resulted in Apple promising to stop eBook price fixing.European Union antitrust regulators began their investigation of Apple and various publishers back in December 2011.

The DOJ claims that since the settlement with Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster, “consumers are already paying lower prices for the e-book versions of many of those publishers’ new releases and bestsellers.”

DOJ chief of staff and counsel Jamillia Ferris said: “If approved by the court, the proposed settlement with Penguin will be an important step toward undoing the harm caused by the publishers’ anticompetitive conduct and restoring retail price competition so consumers can pay lower prices for Penguin’s ebooks.”

The trial will begin on 3 June 2013.

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