Utahns to see share of $69 million e-books price-fixing settlement

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 29 2012 5:54 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — A nationwide agreement with three of the largest book publishers in the U.S. over e-books price fixing could net Utah consumers about $630,000.

Attorneys general in 54 states, districts and territories have reached a $69 million antitrust settlement with Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers and Simon & Schuster.

The settlement comes in conjunction with a civil antitrust lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The suit alleges the three settling publishers and others, including non-settling publishers Macmillan and Penguin, "conspired and agreed to increase retail e-book prices for all consumers" and "agreed to eliminate e-book retail price competition between e-book outlets."

The lawsuit and settlement stem from a two-year antitrust investigation that found a price-fixing conspiracy caused consumers to pay millions more for e-books.

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said the case sends a strong message about price fixing.

"Plus, the settlement paves the way for restitution for consumers who were harmed by the scheme," Shurtleff said.

If the court approves the proposed settlement, consumers who bought e-book from any of the five publishers between April 1, 2010, and May 21, 2012, would receive compensation. The publishers have also agreed to give retailers the freedom to reduce prices on e-book titles.

Dennis Romboy

Twitter: dennisromboy

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