HarperCollins recently struck a deal with Amazon and other e-commerce companies to lower its e-book prices. This action is a result of an antitrust settlement involving Harper Collins, other book publishers and the U.S. Justice Department, that lets retailers return to setting their own prices.
“HarperCollins has reached agreements with our e-retailers that are consistent with the final judgment,” Erin Crum, a spokeswoman for HarperCollins, said in an e-mailed statement. “Dynamic pricing and experimentation will continue to be a priority for us as we move forward.”
Sarah Gelman, a spokeswoman for Seattle-based Amazon added, “Following the approval of the settlement, Amazon is lowering prices on “a broad assortment of HarperCollins titles,”
In summation, an antitrust suit was filed by the Justice Department against HarperCollins, Penguin Group, Macmillan, Hachette Book Group, and Apple (News - Alert) claiming that they conspired to fix prices on e-books in violation of the U.S. antitrust laws.
Here is an outline of the original complaint stated in the Wall Street Journal:
The five publishers and Apple hatched an arrangement that lifted the price of many best-selling e-books to $12.99 or $14.99, according to the suit. The publishers then banded together to impose that model on Amazon, the government alleged.
"As a result of this alleged conspiracy, we believe that consumers paid millions of dollars more for some of the most popular titles," said Attorney General Eric Holder.
In April, a settlement was reached. The legal action stems from the 2010 agreements between major publishers to set their own prices for e-books, in order to offset the deep discounts on best sellers offered by Amazon.
Apple, Penguin Group (USA) and Macmillan have declined to settle and a trial is expected in June 2013.
E-books are a lucrative market accounting for 25-30 percent of total sales and pricing wars are common among publishers and retailers. It was only a matter of time before a lawsuit of this nature emerged and no matter the final outcome we’ll probably see more of them in the future.
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Edited by Jamie Epstein