Department of Justice Settles With Macmillan Over E-Book Price Fixing Lawsuit

I remember when this bad boy was $399!

Back in April of 2012, the United States Government sued 5 different publishers for their involvement in fixing e-book prices.  These publishers included Penguin, Simon and Schuster, Hachette, and HarperCollins. The first four publishers were able to settle with the government and now the tally is up to 5.  Macmillan Publishing was the last publishing company to settle with the Justice Department, but the government is now looking for bigger fish to fry.  The wildly popular tech company Apple is under the microscope for conspiring with these 5 publishing companies that have now all settled.  Apple will be in trial starting this June.

It’s well known that Amazon has a good stronghold on the electronic book market and with the industry’s profitability and stunning growth rate, there is sure to be some major efforts by competitors trying to get a slice of the action.  The allegations which are being looked into include Apple colluding with publishers in order to increase book costs.  By increasing prices and lowering overall demand, they take some of the market away from Amazon in quite a clever way.  Obviously, Apple denies anything of the sort and claims that instead of colluding, they had individual contracts with each one of these publishers.

Regardless of what happens in trial, the consumer is the real winner coming from this legal battle.  Jamillia Ferris, who works in the Justice Department, stated that “Just as consumers are already paying lower prices for the e-book versions of many of Hachette’s, HarperCollins, and Simon and Schuster’s new releases and best-sellers, we expect the prices of many of Macmillan’s e-books will also decline.”  It will be interesting to see this trial unfold in June and I’m sure Apple executives and shareholders will be following every step of the trial closely.

The settlements made between the Department of Justice and these 5 aforementioned publishers were because of a comprehensive 2 year investigation documenting the “alleged” conspiracy.  Results show that consumers were taken advantage of without them knowing a thing for the most part.  It’s estimated that the loss to consumers can easily be in excess of $10 million and possibly much more than that figure.

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