European commission and Apple reach settlement over ebook price fixing

Readers should prepare for plunging ebook prices after the European Commission yesterday accepted commitments from Apple and four major publishers to stop restricting the sale of cheap ebooks.The commission has been investigating the publishers Hachette Livre, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan, together with Apple, over “a suspected concerted practice aimed at raising retail prices for ebooks in the European Economic Area”, in breach of EU antitrust rules. It found that Amazon and other retailers were faced with “what we suspect was a concerted and coordinated demand” by the four publishers to agree to the so-called agency model, which allows publishers rather than retailers to set the prices of ebooks, and said that “the coordination of commercial behaviour between competitors – here, with the help of Apple – is forbidden by our competition rules”.

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