European Union regulators will apparently accept an offer by Apple and four publishers to end an antitrust probe into their e-book prices, “handing Amazon victory in a bid to sell online books cheaper than its rivals,” reports “Reuters” (http://macte.ch/pVRd1), quoting two unnamed sources.
Apple and the publishers have offered to let retailers set their own prices or discounts for a period of two years, and also to suspend “most-favored nation” contracts for five years, the article adds. Such clauses bar publishers from making deals with rival retailers to sell e-books more cheaply than Apple.
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.