(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – Attorney General Mike DeWine announced today that Ohio has joined with 15 state attorneys general in an antitrust lawsuit against Apple, Inc., and three major publishers alleging antitrust violations in the market for electronic books. (e-books) The lawsuit says Apple and publishers Simon & Shuster, Penguin and Macmillan conspired to change the way e-books are priced, costing consumers more than $100 million in overcharges.
"What was at first a great benefit to buyers of electronic books – lower prices – apparently was considered too much of a benefit," said Attorney General DeWine. "Customers who pay out their hard-earned money, no matter the product or service, deserve better."
The arrangement among the publishers – Simon & Schuster, Penguin, and Macmillan, was facilitated by Apple in the course of its negotiations with the publishers to make e-books available for its iPad tablet computer, according to the lawsuit.
Under the arrangement, resellers were no longer able to set the retail prices of the e-books they sold. Instead, resellers would receive a percentage of the sale price set by the publishers. After the switch, e-book bestseller prices rose from what had commonly been $9.99 to $12.99 or even $14.99. The bestseller e-book price of $9.99 had been popularized by Amazon, as it aggressively priced e-books for its Kindle e-book reader.
The lawsuit seeks to return overcharges to consumers of e-books and to prevent future collusion by ending current anticompetitive publisher-reseller contracts and requiring the renegotiation of those contracts.
The states have reached an agreement in principle with publishers Harper Collins and Hachette to provide significant consumer restitution as well as injunctive relief.
Ohio was joined in the enforcement action by Texas, Connecticut, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont and West Virginia.
Lisa Hackley: 614-466-3840
Mark Moretti: 614-466-3840
Copy of Lawsuit (PDF)