Amazon may offer refunds on e-book purchases

Amazon has announced it will give Kindle owners refunds on past e-book purchases if a settlement with publishers accused of fixing prices is approved.

Mike Segar/Reuters
Kindle owners may be eligible to receive refunds of from 30 cents to $1.32 for e-books purchased between April 2010 and May 2012.

If you’re a Kindle user, you may have some money coming your way.

Kindle owners will receive refunds on past e-book purchases – and see future e-book prices drop – if a judge approves settlements with publishers accused of fixing prices, Amazon recently announced.

Kindle owners are eligible to receive refunds of from 30 cents to $1.32 for e-books purchased between April 2010 and May 2012. (According to the official website for the State Attorneys General e-book settlements, customers will receive $1.32 for each title that was on the New York Times bestseller list during the claim period and 30 cents for each title that was not a bestseller.)

The books must have been purchased through Amazon and published by one of the three settling publishers: Hachette, Harper Collins, and Simon & Schuster. According to an email Amazon sent out to Kindle owners Saturday, the refunds will be automatically credited to users’ Amazon accounts (allowing readers to sink it back into more books). Customers can also ask for their refund to be paid as a check.

“We think these settlements are a big win for customers and look forward to lowering prices on more Kindle books in the future,” Amazon told customers in the emails.

Sit tight and don’t expect any extra cash ahead of the holidays. Refunds won’t be made until the courts approve the settlements at a hearing scheduled for February 2012. In all, expected refunds total about $69 million.

The settlements are the result of a legal suit filed by the Department of Justice against Apple and five publishers for illegally colluding to fix prices in an effort to fight Amazon’s dominance in the e-book market. Though they denied wrongdoing, three publishers (HarperCollins, Hachette, Simon & Schuster) decided to settle to avoid the costs of going to trial. Apple and the remaining two publishers, Penguin and Macmillan, will fight the suit in court next year.

More good news: Barnes and Noble is preparing a similar arrangement for Nook users who purchased affected e-books, according to the Wall Street Journal. And e-book prices are expected to fall following the settlement, of which we’ve already seen evidence.

Check out Amazon’s FAQ page on the settlements and refunds to learn if you’re eligible. 

Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.

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