EU: Apple Is At The Head Of An E-Book ‘Cartel’!

EU: Apple Is At The Head Of An E-Book ‘Cartel’!

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Did Apple conspire with major publishers to increase e-book prices? The European Commission has launched an antitrust probe of Apple and five publishers amid claims the industry was “terrified” by Amazon’s $9.99 e-book push. At the heart is Apple’s iBookstore and the tech giant’s “agency model” that a California lawsuit charges inflated book prices.

The EC earlier tossed the European offices of Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, Penguin and other publishers under investigation. In a statement, European regulatory agency said it “has concerns, that these practices may breach EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices.”

Seems many of those concerns stem from a last-minute deal Steve Jobs cut in order to get publishers onboard iBookstore, which launched in January 2010 and was largely overtaken by the iPad’s release. A class action lawsuit filed in California calls Jobs “a co-conspirator as terrified [as publishers] were over Amazon’s popularity and pricing structure.”

Not wanting to act alone to push up e-book prices, the publishers and Apple “solved this problem through coordinating between themselves (and Apple) to force Amazon to abandon its pro-consumer pricing,” claims the lawsuit filed by the Hagens Berman litigation group. The legal challenge describes the supposed cartel forcing “the discounting of eBook prices and uniformly raise prices on all first release fiction and nonfiction published” by the bookmakers.

The EC said there is no idea how long the probe will last.

  • rolandgosebruch

    The headline is misleading, to say the least.

    This is an investigation to find out if there is such a cartel. In the headline, you present the existence of this cartel (with Apple at its head) as an already established fact and make the impression that the EU has already ruled.

    Form your headline as a question and it’s truer to the facts.

  • larrymadill

    For a region that is on the verge of financial collapse, the EU has far too much time on their hands.

  • Bart?omiej ?api?ski

     You mean the United Debt States of America?

About the author

Ed SutherlandEd Sutherland is a veteran technology journalist who first heard of Apple when they grew on trees, Yahoo was run out of a Stanford dorm and Google was an unknown upstart. Since then, Sutherland has covered the whole technology landscape, concentrating on tracking the trends and figuring out the finances of large (and small) technology companies.

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