Cheaper e-books would be great, right? According to industry executives, that may just happen in the next one to three months after a federal judge entered an approval of an antitrust settlement between several e-book publishers and the Justice Department itself.
In the final settlement today, publishers Lagardere, Hachette Book Group, Simon & Schuster, and HarperCollins have the next 10 days to notify e-book retailers like Amazon that any previous agreements regarding e-book pricing are no longer valid. The deal gave publishers only seven days to notify Apple, interestingly enough.
According to the report in the Wall Street Journal, one executive, who asked to not be identified, said, “It could be pretty fast.”
The publishers have to let retailers out of any agreements that prevent discounting, and the retailers are also able to terminate said contracts within 30 days.
The antitrust lawsuit was filed in April by the federal Justice Department, which alleged collusion between Apple and five e-book publishers to prevent steep discounts like Amazon had been promoting. Three of the publishers settled with the Justice Department, while Penguin Group and Macmillan continue to fight the suit along with Apple.
Before the alleged collusion, Amazon was selling best selling e-books at a standard $9.99 per copy. The Justice Department’s suit says that Apple and the named publishers came to an agreement which forced Amazon to sell titles at higher prices. Best-seller e-book prices rose to $12.99, $14.99, or higher.
“We look forward to lowering book prices,” said Russ Grandinetti, Amazon’s vice president of Kindle content, in an interview reported in the WSJ. “This is good news for customers and we are excited to be able to do it.”
Apple has stated earlier that it would appeal an unfavorable decision like the one approved today, but the Cupertino-based corporation has not commented to the WSJ as of yet. However, attorney Bob Kohn has filed appeal paperwork with the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit asking for a stay of the settlement, pending appeal.
“I am hopeful that Judge Denise Cote will grant my motion to stay the settlement,” said Mr. Kohn. “If a district court denies a motion for a stay, the court of appeals can be asked to stay the settlement.”
Whether this will affect iBooks or not is still uncertain at this point, but it would be hard for it to compete with the type of discounts Amazon applies to all its other online retail products. Let’s hope we all benefit from this landmark decision and get to purchase our e-books at lower prices than they are currently on offer for.
Source: The Wall Street Journal