Apple has offered to settle the row over ebook price fixing in Europe, but it’s still holding out in the US, reports “Macworld UK” (http://macte.ch/lus2c), According to reports, European Union competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia has said Apple and all the publishers, other than Penguin, have agreed to settle, at least in Europe.
Apple has been sued in Europe, the U.S. and Canada for collaborating with publishers to “fix” ebook prices. The brouhaha centers on Apple’s move to change the way that publishers charged for e-books as it prepared to introduce its first iPad in 2010. Traditionally, publishers sold books to retailers for roughly half of the recommended cover price. Under that “wholesale model,” booksellers were then free to offer those books to customers for less than the cover price if they wished.
Apple suggested moving to an “agency model,” under which the publishers would set the price of the book and Apple would take a 30% cut. However, Apple also insisted that publishers couldn’t let rival retailers sell the same book at a lower price.
“Macworld UK” notes that European Union antitrust regulators began their investigation of Apple and various publishers back in December 2011. That probe is targeting Apple’s deals with Hachette Livre, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Penguin and Macmillan. According to the European Commission the investigation would examine whether the publishers were: “…with the help of Apple, engaged in anti-competitive practices affecting the sale of e-books in the European Economic Area, in breach of EU antitrust rules.”