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New lawsuit accuses Amazon of e-book price fixing

New lawsuit accuses Amazon of e-book price fixing


The suit alleges the e-commerce company works with publishers to stifle competition

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Amazon is facing a new lawsuit alleging that a deal between the company and five book publishers has created higher prices on e-books, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The lawsuit filed by law firm Hagens Berman in a federal district court in New York, alleges that the publishers pay high commissions and other costs to Amazon, which in turn increases the retail price of e-books sold on the platform. Due to the deal between Amazon and the publishers— HarperCollins Publishers, Hachette Book Group, Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Macmillan the Amazon price is the price the publishers charge other retailers as well, preventing other sellers from offering the e-books at lower prices, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims the five publishers account for 80 percent of books sold in the US, and calls the arrangement a “conspiracy to fix the retail price of e-books,” which it argues is a violation of antitrust law.

In another e-book lawsuit back in 2012, the Justice Department accused Apple of conspiring with major book publishers in an attempt to compete with Amazon, by inflating e-book prices above the $9.99 price that Amazon preferred. Hagens Berman was lead counsel in the Apple case as well. The publishers settled, but Apple went to court and lost, eventually agreeing to a $450 million settlement, with $400 million issued as refunds to consumers. Apple denied any wrongdoing in regard to e-book pricing.

Amazon declined to comment, as did Penguin Random House. The other publishers named in the lawsuit did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Verge on Sunday.

Update January 17th 1:07PM ET: Adds that Amazon and Penguin Random House declined comment.