If you purchased an eBook in the last three years, I have some good news! There’s a shot that the publisher owes you a few cents if that title was priced according to the “agency model”. You’re rich! A whole shiny nickel just for you!
According to Businessweek:
States including Maryland, Ohio and Texas said they reached a $69 million settlement with three U.S. publishers over alleged price-fixing for electronic books.
The agreements were made with Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers LLC and Simon & Schuster Inc., according to statements from attorneys general in states also including Colorado and Florida. The settlement, which must be approved by a federal judge in New York, couldn’t be confirmed in court records.
“Unlawful collusion and price-fixing not only violates antitrust laws, it is anti-competitive and inconsistent with the free market approach that is critical to our economy,” Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said in a statement. “Today’s settlements provide refunds to customers who paid artificially inflated prices for e-books.”
Meanwhile, Engadget is reporting that consumers will hear from the retailers who sold them the books on how to request their refund. I am joking about it being a nickel, but the likelihood is that everyone will get a very tiny slice of the actual payout. eBooks have become increasingly popular, and since you have to buy them electronically it is that much easier to track down who bought what books when, which means the group of consumers included in this is going to be very large. Hence why no one is going to get a very large payout from the decision.
However, assuming we do all get a little something, I say we use it wisely. Instead of rushing out to buy a bestseller, look around and find a book by an independent author. Use any credits you get to buy a book from an unknown author or a book that’s on the edges of your radar. Any store credit we all receive will be a windfall, and I for one want to use it to find and reward talent who fall outside the mainstream publishing world. After all, this money comes from the mistakes the publishers have made-why give it back to them?
It is unclear what the timeline will be on when retailers will start reaching out to consumers about the settlement, and if you live in Minnesota you get a separate one entirely. If you get an email from an eBookstore, let us know in the comments what you were told!