Apple faces US suit over e-book prices

Apple faces US suit over e-book prices

Apple and five of the publishing industry’s top firms have been accused of conspiring to raise prices and block Amazon.com from selling e-books at $9.99 in a US Justice Department suit.

The suit filed Wednesday stems from the 2010 release of the iPad, when Apple reached an agreement with the five publishers to release books on its then-new iBookstore.

Three publishers — Hachette, Simon and Schuster and HarperCollins — agreed to settle. Apple, Penguin Group and Macmillan did not agree to settle. Macmillan’s chief executive said Wednesday that the firm would fight the charges in court.

US Attorney General Eric Holder said that as a result of the conspiracy, “consumers paid millions of dollars more for some of the most popular titles” and competition was eliminated. Attorneys general for Connecticut and Texas led a handful of other states in separate litigation against the companies as well.

Before the release of the iPad, Amazon’s Kindle was the preeminent e-book reader on the market. Amazon forced publishers to sell most books at $9.99 — a price that came in below the cost of the books. According to the Justice Department, booksellers were unnerved by the discounted e-book price structure.

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