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E-book price-fixing: three publishers agree to pay $69 million to consumers

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Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

(Read caption) In a settlement that marks a major victory for the DOJ, three of the five publishing companies accused of conspiring to fix the prices of e-books have agreed to pay $69 million to consumers.

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Big news in the Justice Department’s e-book price-fixing suit: Three of the five publishers accused of price-fixing – Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster – have agreed to pay $69 million to consumers to settle claims they illegally conspired to fix the price of e-books.

The publishers will reimburse consumers who bought books between April 1, 2010 and May 12, 2012, a total of $69 million, with reimbursements ranging from 25 cents to $1.32 per book, according to the Baltimore Business Journal.

In announcing the settlement, Connecticut attorney general George Jepsen called the payout “restitution to customers who were harmed by this price-fixing scheme.”

The publishers must also pay $7.5 million in fees and costs to states.

“We will not tolerate publishers colluding to overcharge consumers millions of dollars for some of the most popular e-books,” John Suthers said in a statement.

A spokesperson for HarperCollins said, “HarperCollins did not violate antitrust laws but made a business decision to settle to avoid the expense and distraction of litigation.”

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