Apple, Five Others Accused of eBook Price Fixing

A consumer rights group has filed a lawsuit against Apple and five book publishers, accusing them of illegally fixing the price of e-books.

The lawsuit has been filed by Hagens Berman, a consumer rights class-action law firm in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

The class-action lawsuit alleges that Apple colluded with the publishers to increase the prices of eBooks in order to boost their profit and force eBook seller Amazon to drop its discount pricing scheme.

The US publishers mentioned in the lawsuit include HarperCollins Publishers, Hachette Book Group, Macmillan Publishers, Penguin Group and Simon & Schuster.

The lawsuit (which can be found here in PDF format) alleges that the publishers believed that the Amazon’s discounted pricing for its eBook would lead the customers to believe that eBooks will be cheaper on other platforms as well.

Instead of competing with Amazon’s discounted pricing, Apple conspired to force Amazon to drop discount pricing of eBooks, with the help of the publishers.

"Fortunately for the publishers, they had a co-conspirator as terrified as they were over Amazon's popularity and pricing structure, and that was Apple," said Steve Berman, the founding partner of Hagen Berman.

"We intend to prove that Apple needed a way to neutralize Amazon's Kindle before its popularity could challenge the upcoming introduction of the iPad, a device Apple intended to compete as an e-reader." he added.