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EU willing to settle with e-book publishers over pricing

updated 12:35 pm EDT, Mon March 12, 2012

EU deal may avoid penalty over Apple book pricing

European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia in comments Monday said his agency was willing to settle with publishers over an e-book price fixing investigation. He was willing to put an end to possible penalties for Hachette Livre, HarperCollins, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, and Macmillan if they addressed "all our objections [at the EC]" over the group allegedly raising prices unfairly, Reuters heard. The European regulator was working in tandem with matching US investigators, although he didn't directly confirm leaks of a possible Department of Justice lawsuit.

Settling would let the companies avoid admitting any wrongdoing as well as avoid a steep fine of 10 percent of yearly global sales revenue.

Both the American and European investigations are known to have been started based on Apple's pricing demands, set before the iPad became public at the end of January 2010. The company let publishers adopt a heavily requested agency model, where they set the price and give Apple a fixed royalty rate, in this case its familiar 30 percent. Apple's insistence on a "most favored nation" rule, where no bookseller could have a lower price, is likely the main roadblock as it has prevented Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and others from competing based on price.

At least some of the companies are believed to be open to settlements and negotiating, although whether or not that includes Apple isn't apparent.

By Electronista Staff


  1. Bobfozz

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2008


    what is a fair price?

    The publishers didn't have to agree to Apple's demands. People don't HAVE to buy eBook titles. Publishers like to recoup $$$ on books they publish but which don't do well... at he expense of those which have. It's an old model everyone used. The EU knows nothing about publishing and is solely about price and doesn't care about the survivability of anyone engaged in commerce. If there WAS a level playing field everyone who wrote a book would be rich... unfortunately for them, we have to LOOK at content. Content costs. Amazon was the exception because they wanted EVERYONE'S business in every subject... including diapers (not kidding about this).

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