Delaware is part of an antitrust settlement with book publishers over claims of price fixing of E-books that can be read on computers or other devices. Delaware consumers are expected to get $235,000 of the $69 million settlement with Hachette Book Group, Inc., HarperCollins Publishers L.L.C. and Simon & Schuster Inc.
In the lawsuit, the states allege that the three settling publishers and others, including non-settlement publishers Macmillan and Penguin “conspired and agreed to increase retail E-book prices for all consumers” and “agreed to eliminate E-book retail price competition between E-book outlets, such that retail prices to consumers would be the same regardless of the outlet patronized by the consumer.”
“Competition lowers prices for consumers, but in this case, the publishers’ collusive actions denied consumers that benefit,” Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden said. “This settlement with three of those publishers begins the process of helping consumers harmed by the publishers’ scheme.”
The lawsuit and related settlement come from a two-year investigation conducted by the Connecticut and Texas Attorneys General and U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division.
Under the proposed settlement agreement, which must be approved by the court, Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster will compensate consumers who purchased E-books from any of the Agency Five between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012. Delaware consumers are estimated to receive over $235,000 in total compensation.
Delaware continues to seek compensation for consumers who have purchased E-books from other alleged participants. Biden’s office has joined with other states in a separate lawsuit against E-book publishers Macmillan and Penguin and E-book seller Apple.
The advent of E-books had been expected to lower the cost of reading, since publishers no longer have to pay printing costs for the book downloads. However, prices have often remain comparable with printed books.