It’s long been rumored that the Department of Justice would file an antitrust suit against Apple for e-book price fixing, but now it’s happening, as the United States DoJ just filed such a suit against Apple, Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan and Penguin.
At issue here is Apple’s attempt to overthrow Amazon’s hegemony on e-book selling by collaborating with publishers ahead of the iBookstore launch to standardize how much is charged for e-books, not just through Apple, but through Amazon as well.
Amazon famously wouldn’t let e-book publishers charge more than $9.99 on the Kindle Store, but Apple upset this by getting major publishers to agree to sell their books on the iBookstore at higher prices, forcing Amazon to allow publishers to charge the same amount on the Kindle Store or lose their library of titles from those publishers.
It’s always been an ironic case, considering the fact that Apple has effectively fixed prices for music on the iTunes store since inception. Amazon did the same thing, but when Apple muscled into the e-book space, they did so by effectively adopting a pro-agency, anti-consumer model.
We’ll have to see how this lawsuit shakes out. More as we get it.