Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller has joined with his counterparts in 15 other states in an antitrust case against some of the country’s largest book publishers over the prices they charge for electronic books.
Miller says the Department of Justice has filed a similar suit and they are working with them as well. “What we’re alleging in our suits is that three publishers have agreed to charge 12.99 and 14.99 on e-books, and to do it in a way that those prices don’t vary,” Miller says.
The suit alleges Penguin, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan conspired with other publishers and Apple to artificially raise prices.
“They will continue to work through a number of retailers but they’ve set the price that retailers can charge to consumers…there’s no price competition for retailers, there’s one set fee that everybody charges and we allege that that goes counter in a very significant way to the antitrust law,” according to Miller.
The lawsuit seeks a couple of things. “We’ve asked the court to restrain, give an injunction against these kinds of practices, and we’ll seek money damages for consumers that lost money because they were paying more than they otherwise would pay,” Miller says.
The states have already reached an agreement in principle with publishers Harper Collins and Hachette to provide $52-million for consumer restitution for similar practices.
Iowa was joined by attorneys general in Connecticut, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and West Virginia.