Michigan consumers may split $1.8 million from e-books settlement

Attorney General Bill Schuette says Michigan consumers will be reimbursed up to $1.8 million as part of a national price-fixing settlement with three of the nation's largest book publishers.

Hachette Book Group, Inc., HarperCollins Publishers L.L.C. and Simon & Schuster Inc. have agreed to pay a total of more than $69 million to consumers nationwide to resolve antitrust claims of an alleged unlawful conspiracy to fix the prices of electronic books (e-books). They have also agreed to change the way they price e-books going forward.

''Price-fixing undermines the free market and sticks consumers with the bill,'' said Schuette. ''If Michigan consumers purchased e-books from these publishers, they will now be eligible for compensation.''

The settlement is the result of a civil antitrust complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster, which alleges that the three settling publishers and others, ''conspired and agreed to increase retail e-book prices for all consumers'' and ''agreed to eliminate e-book retail price competition between e-book outlets, such that retail prices to consumers would be the same regardless of the outlet patronized by the consumer.''

Under the settlement agreement, which must be approved by the court, Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster will compensate consumers who purchased e-books from Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster during the period of April 1, 2010 through May 21, 2012. Customers who purchased e-books published by Penguin and Macmillan during the same time period may also be eligible for compensation, since prices for those e-books were also affected.

Payments will begin 30 days after the court approval of the settlement becomes final. Consumers in Michigan are expected to receive up to $1.8 million in total compensation. Consumers will be notified at a later date if they are eligible to receive compensation. The settling defendants will also pay approximately $7.5 million to the states for fees and costs.

Published: Mon, Sep 10, 2012