Hachette, HarperCollins and S&S settle price-fixing allegations.

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Hachette, HarperCollins and S&S settle price-fixing allegations.

Apr 11 2012

Three publishers—Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster—have agreed to a proposed settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice to settle federal claims of price fixing regarding e-books. Publishers Weekly reported today on the broad strokes of the deal, and what it means for the settling publishers (click link at bottom for full story).

Macmillan CEO John Sargent has acknowledged that his company has declined to settle and will fight the litigation. Penguin Group has also confirmed they will fight; and it is expected that Apple will do too.

Penguin Group CEO John Makinson issued a statement saying:

"A responsible company does not choose a path of litigation with US Government agencies without carefully weighing the implications of that course of action [but] we have done nothing wrong. The decisions that we took, many them of them costly and difficult, were taken by Penguin alone."

Speaking about the Justice's filing today he says, "the document contains a number of material misstatements and omissions, which we look forward to having the opportunity to correct in court".

Makinson went on to say that "the agency model is the one that offers consumers the prospect of an open and competitive market for e-books. We understood that the shift to agency would be very costly to Penguin and its shareholders in the short-term, but we reasoned that the prevention of a monopoly in the supply of e-books had to be in the best interests, not just of Penguin, but of consumers, authors and booksellers as well.... The decision we took in January 2010 to move Penguin’s e-book business to agency pricing has been vindicated by the very rapid subsequent growth in the volume of e-books sold by agency publishers, and by the benefit to consumers of the steep decline in the price of e-book readers that that has resulted from this open competition."

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