Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli office news release
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli today announced the resolution of a multistate antitrust investigation against a major U.S. book publisher for price-fixing and collusion in the electronic book (e-book) market. Virginia and 32 other states and territories have reached an agreement in principle with Holtzbrinck Publishers LLC dba Macmillan to settle the states' allegations that Macmillan colluded with other major publishers and Apple Inc. to manipulate prices in the e-book market.
Consumers nationwide will receive $20 million in compensation. Virginians comprise nearly 3.4 percent of Macmillan's e-book purchasers nationwide and should therefore receive 3.4 percent of the settlement, or approximately $680,000.
"We do not want businesses interfering with the free market by illegally conspiring to fix prices," Cuccinelli said. "In this case, the collusion with other publishers increased prices for customers to the tune of tens of millions of dollars nationwide for popular e-book titles. This settlement paves the way for restitution for those consumers and prohibits Macmillan from colluding with other publishers and undermining retail price competition in the e-book market."
The agreement with Macmillan must be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. When finalized, the agreement will grant e-book retailers greater freedom to reduce the prices of their titles.
In August 2012, the attorney general's office secured an additional $2.3 million in restitution for Virginia consumers from three other e-book publishers.
Virginia's and the other states' antitrust action based on the same allegations against publisher Penguin Group (USA) Inc. and Apple Inc. remains pending, with trial scheduled in June 2013.