A consumer watchdog group is calling for a congressional probe into what it calls an e-book "price-fixing arrangement, entered into by five major publishers and Apple," that will cost consumers over $200 million this year. The Consumer Federation of America called on the U.S. Senate Committee on Antitrust to look into the issue.
"E-book price fixing comes at a crucial moment for both antitrust law and the development of the digital economy," said Mark Cooper, CFA's director of research. "The e-book market is early in its development and the abuse will grow, if it is not stopped immediately."
In addition to Apple, the five publishers named were Simon and Schuster, Hachette Book, Penguin Group, Macmillan and HarperCollins Publishers.
In March, Citydesk reported how Penguin had terminated its contracts with the nation's libraries, not making any new titles available at lending institutions. Additionally, Random House, the world's largest English-language publisher, jacked up its prices for libraries as much as 300 percent, effective March 1.