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Friday, 12 August 2011

Bitter Fruit

 Apple, along with several major publishers, are facing a lawsuit in the US over illegally fixing the price on eBooks. The lawsuit, filed by law firm Hagens Berman in California northern district court, claims that HarperCollins, Hachette Book Group, Macmillan, Penguin and Simon & Schuster conspired with Apple to increase ebook prices in order "to boost profits and force ebook rival Amazon to abandon its pro-consumer discount pricing", and that they are "in violation of a variety of federal and state antitrust laws"

Pointing to Macmillan's battle with Amazon over the agency model last year, which ultimately saw the online retailer capitulate to Macmillan's introduction of the model "because Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles", the lawsuit says the five publishers "forced Amazon to abandon its discount pricing and adhere to a new agency model ... If Amazon attempted to sell ebooks below the publisher-set levels, the publishers would simply deny Amazon access to the title." This has, the suit says, seen the prices of new ebooks increase to an average of $12-15 – a rise of 33 to 50% – and reach a point where they are often more expensive than physical editions.

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