Penguin Books settles with 33 states, consumers in e-book price-fixing suit

Penguin Books settled their charges for $75 million, bringing the funds that will reimburse consumers to $165 million.

Tim Ireland/PA/AP
Penguin Books settled with US Attorneys General from 33 states as well as consumers for $75 million.

Publisher Penguin Books reached a settlement with US Attorneys General for 33 states as well as consumers for $75 million in response to charges that Penguin and four other major US book publishers had conspired to fix e-book prices.

Penguin had also previously settled a suit brought by the Department of Justice and will not be a part of the e-book price-fixing trial that is scheduled to begin June 3.

In the settlement with the states and consumers, Penguin is not required to state any wrongdoing on its part, according to the current terms of the settlement. The settlement still needs to be approved by a federal judge in New York.

Through the Penguin settlement, the money that will be used to reimburse consumers for funds lost because of the alleged e-book price-fixing has now increased to $165 million total. Penguin is paying by far the most, with publisher Hachette Book Group paying the second-most at $32 million. Of the five, Simon & Schuster is paying the least with $18 million.

The other four publishers involved in the case all settled earlier than Penguin.

Currently Apple alone will be involved in the DOJ case, which comes to trial in June. As reported by Monitor writer Husna Haq, there was recently some back-and-forth between Apple and the DOJ as the trial looms, with the Department of Justice stating that Apple “knew exactly what it was doing” and calling it the “ringmaster” in the alleged price-fixing scheme.

Apple fired back, with Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr stating, “Apple did not conspire to fix eBook pricing. We helped transform the eBook market with the introduction of the iBookstore in 2010, bringing consumers an expanded selection of eBooks and delivering innovative new features. The market has been thriving and innovating since Apple's entry, and we look forward to going to trial to defend ourselves and move forward.”

Apple and the five publishers were accused of trying to fix the prices of their e-books in an attempt to get online bookseller titan Amazon to increase its e-book prices of $9.99.

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