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Apple, Publisher Giants Sued Over Fixed eBook Prices

A Seattle-based law firm has filed a lawsuit accusing Apple and five major book publishers of fixing eBook prices. The suit, filed by Hagens Berman, alleges that Apple and Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins Publishers, Penguin Group Inc, Hachette Book Group, and Macmillan Publishers “colluded” on eBook prices in order to force Amazon to “abandon its pro-consumer discount pricing.”

“Fortunately for the publishers, they had a co-conspirator as terrified as they were over Amazon’s popularity and pricing structure, and that was Apple,” explained Steve Berman, one of the firm’s founding partners. “We intend to prove that Apple needed a way to neutralize Amazon’s Kindle before its popularity could challenge the upcoming introduction of the iPad, a device Apple intended to compete as an e-reader.”

The law firm released a press release clearly targeting Apple’s methods:

As a result of the pricing conspiracy, prices of e-books have exploded, jumping as much as 50 percent. When an e-book version of a best-seller costs close to – or even more than – its hard-copy counterpart, it doesn’t take a forensic economist to see that this is evidence of market manipulation.

The suit additionally noted Amazon’s pricing “threatened to disrupt the publishers’ long-established brick-and-mortar model faster than the publishers were willing to accept.”

You can read the entire press release here.

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