Apple and four major publishers have offered to allow retailers such as Amazon to sell e-books at a discount for two years in a bid to end an EU antitrust investigation and stave off possible fines, reports “Reuter” (http://macte.ch/swh1d), quoting an unnamed “person familiar with the matter.
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.
The EU antitrust watchdog opened an investigation into Apple’s e-book pricing deals with the publishers last December, saying these may hamper competition in Europe. The four publishers are Simon & Schuster, News Corp unit HarperCollins, French group Lagardere SCA’s Hachette Livre and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck, which owns Macmillan in Germany.