AG announces $69M e-book settlement

BALTIMORE (WMAR) - Attorney General Douglas Gansler announced today that an antitrust settlement has been secured with three of the nation's largest book publishers over e-book price-fixing allegations.

Under the settlement, Hachette Book Group, Inc, HarperCollins Publishers L.L.C. and Simon & Schuster Inc. have agreed to pay more than $69 million to consumers, resolving claims of an alleged unlawful conspiracy to fix the prices of electronic books.

Maryland consumers will receive up to $1.64 million from the settlement.

Under the settlement, these publishers must allow all online retailers to completely price all e-books in the future. Pending litigation against the remaining defendants in this case may provide additional consumer protections and cash restitution.

"Collusion by these publishers has cost consumers millions of dollars more for the most popular e-book titles" said Attorney General Gansler. "While consumers will be reimbursed, this settlement also promotes competition among e-book retailers from here on out."

In most cases, consumers may choose to receive the value of their restitution by check or by crediting the amount to future purchases of e-books. E-book retailers Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple and Kobo have agreed to identify and contact each eligible customer by email.

Retailers Google and Sony will also notify affected customers. Sony will inform customers that checks will automatically be issued. Google customers will be directed to submit a claim on a settlement website.

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