Feds Sue Over Alleged E-Book Collusion


As threatened, the U.S. government is suing Apple and several major publishers, accusing them of conspiring to fix prices of e-books. The suit was filed this morning in Manhattan federal court by the antitrust division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

The publishers named in the suit include Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, MacMillan, Penguin, Pearson Pic and Simon & Schuster. The lawsuit said the alleged conspiracy came as Apple was preparing to launch the iPad. It said the alleged conspiracy called for Apple to be guaranteed a 30 percent commission. Federal prosecutors said the alleged collusion came as a response to the success Amazon had in selling e-books for just under $10. Justice Department officials said publishers stopped selling e-books to Amazon and shifted to a so-called "agency" approach proposed by Apple.

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.