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Book Publishers Inflate E-Book Prices, Amazon Rewards Customers with Refunds

posted Saturday Oct 20, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Book Publishers Inflate E-Book Prices, Amazon Rewards Customers with Refunds

When it comes to Amazon, we usually have very good things to say about their audio and video offerings. Occasionally the company will mess up big time, like in the instance of their weekend AWS outage. However this is one of those times where Amazon will end up looking like heroes without even having to try.

Considering that e-books are a penny business, where every cent literally does count, a lawsuit is the last thing a content provider or publisher could need. Three book publishers are on the paying end of one of these messy settlements, to the tune of 30 cents to $1.32 per e-book purchased between April 2010 and May 2012 from the Amazon Kindle store. Amazon, among other e-book stores, claim that Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster, conspired to "fix and raise" the prices of their e-books in order to make more profit. The settlement should be finalized and approved when the trial begins in June 2013 and will place limitations on a publisher's ability to set e-book prices. Amazon customers will receive credits to their Amazon.com accounts but can also request a check be cut if they are eligible.

It should be noted that the settling publishers have denied they did anything wrong but still have agreed to settle outside of court, for $69 million. That's a high price for innocence. Also, Amazon customers aren't the only ones affecting but were the only ones we could find a payout for each e-book. From what the settlement website says (source link below), all e-book stores are eligible for a credit, including Sony, Apple, Kobo, Google and Barnes & Noble's marketplaces.

Here's the email that affected Amazon customers should have received this week.

Dear Kindle Customer,

We have good news. You are entitled to a credit for some of your past e-book purchases as a result of legal settlements between several major e-book publishers and the Attorneys General of most U.S. states and territories, including yours. You do not need to do anything to receive this credit. We will contact you when the credit is applied to your Amazon.com account if the Court approves the settlements in February 2013.

Hachette, Harper Collins, and Simon & Schuster have settled an antitrust lawsuit about e-book prices. Under the proposed settlements, the publishers will provide funds for a credit that will be applied directly to your Amazon.com account. If the Court approves the settlements, the account credit will appear automatically and can be used to purchase Kindle books or print books. While we will not know the amount of your credit until the Court approves the settlements, the Attorneys General estimate that it will range from $0.30 to $1.32 for every eligible Kindle book that you purchased between April 2010 and May 2012. Alternatively, you may request a check in the amount of your credit by following the instructions included in the formal notice of the settlements, set forth below. You can learn more about the settlements here: www.amazon.com/help/agencyebooksettlements

In addition to the account credit, the settlements impose limitations on the publishers' ability to set e-book prices. We think these settlements are a big win for customers and look forward to lowering prices on more Kindle books in the future.

Thank you for being a Kindle customer.

The Amazon Kindle Team

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