3:38pm

Thu August 30, 2012
Business and the Economy

Kentucky Included in E-Book Settlement

The nation’s three largest book publishers – Hachette Book Group (USA), HarperCollins Publishers LLC and Simon & Schuster Inc. – have agreed to pay more than $69 million to all 50 states, including Kentucky, and four districts and territories for conspiring to fix prices on electronic books, Attorney General Jack Conway announced Thursday.

Eligible Kentuckians who bought e-books from April 1, 2010 through May 21, 2012 will be compensated an estimated $700,000 total, according to a news release.

“Kentucky consumers paid hundreds of thousands of dollars more for some of the most popular e-book titles, as a result of this collusion,” Conway said in a statement.

“This settlement paves the way for restitution for consumers harmed by the scheme and restores competition in the e-book market. Through our ongoing litigation against the remaining defendants, we hope to provide additional restitution to Kentucky consumers who have been harmed.”

Connecticut and Texas attorneys general started the price-fixing investigation with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division two years ago, the release says.

Investigators found evidence that the publishers conspired to end e-book retailers’ pricing flexibility by controlling wholesale prices and “substantially” increasing prices consumers paid for e-books.

Payments will begin 30 days after court approval of the settlement. The publishers will also pay states $7.5 million for fees and costs of the investigation, the release says.