"Amazon and major publishers engaged in ebook price-fixing"


Amazon and the "Big Five" publishers have been accused of colluding on keeping ebook prices artificially high. The case was filed by the same law firm that brought Apple to its knees ten years ago when it was guilty of similar practices.



The Big Five refers to Penguin Random House, Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan and Simon & Schuster. The case was filed last Thursday by law firm Hagens Berman, on behalf of consumers from various American states. Amazon and the publishers are accused of using a clause to keep the prices of ebooks artificially high by agreeing to price restrictions that ultimately force consumers to pay more when they buy ebooks through retail platforms other than Amazon.


"Amazon's agreement with its conspirators is an unreasonable restraint of trade that prevents competitive pricing and causes consumers to overpay when they buy Big Five ebooks through an ebook retailer that competes with Amazon. These violations are ongoing and will continue unless Amazon and the Big Five are stopped," the suit reads.


The lawsuit comes just a day after the state of Connecticut announced it is investigating Amazon for possible anti-competitive behaviour in the sale of ebooks, writes The Guardian. Documents have been requested relating to transactions between the e-commerce giant and the Big Five.


Not the first time

Ten years ago, Hagens Berman also sued Apple and the Big Five publishers for colluding on ebook prices. It led to lawsuits from various US states and the Department of Justice, which accused Apple of conspiring to restrict Amazon's dominance in the ebook market. The Big Five then agreed to an out-of-court settlement and paid 166 million dollars (137 million euros). After a long legal battle, Apple was eventually ordered to pay 450 million dollars (373 million euros) in compensation.