If you purchased any eBooks published by a major publishing house in the last few years, you probably received an email from Amazon, or will receive one from your bookstore of choice shortly. As a result of the Department of Justice ruling on Agency Pricing, the publishers who agreed to the settlement owe us all some money. The exact formula isn’t clear, but according to the email from Amazon it’s safe to expect $0.30-$1.32 per book:
We have good news. You are entitled to a credit for some of your past e-book purchases as a result of legal settlements between several major e-book publishers and the Attorneys General of most U.S. states and territories, including yours. You do not need to do anything to receive this credit. We will contact you when the credit is applied to your Amazon.com account if the Court approves the settlements in February 2013.
Hachette, Harper Collins, and Simon & Schuster have settled an antitrust lawsuit about e-book prices. Under the proposed settlements, the publishers will provide funds for a credit that will be applied directly to your Amazon.com account. If the Court approves the settlements, the account credit will appear automatically and can be used to purchase Kindle books or print books. While we will not know the amount of your credit until the Court approves the settlements, the Attorneys General estimate that it will range from $0.30 to $1.32 for every eligible Kindle book that you purchased between April 2010 and May 2012. Alternatively, you may request a check in the amount of your credit by following the instructions included in the formal notice of the settlements, set forth below. You can learn more about the settlements here:
In addition to the account credit, the settlements impose limitations on the publishers’ ability to set e-book prices. We think these settlements are a big win for customers and look forward to lowering prices on more Kindle books in the future.
This was mandated by the terms of the settlement, so it isn’t that Amazon is doing anything special. While they were the first, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Kobo, and any other stores who sold Agency Titles will have to contact customers as well. But Amazon was smart about how they approached this.
By being the first company to reach out, they set the tone for everyone. The email could have sounded like every class action email that gets sent out: “Pursuant to settlement 1234, Department of Justice vs [participating publishers] you have been identified as having purchased ebooks between April 2010 and May 2012 and may be eligible for a credit”. Chances are your eyes would glaze over before you even got to the part about the credit. Instead, Amazon opened with a positive-Good news, you’re getting a credit!, which is guaranteed to catch someone’s attention. Then the little dig at the end about how this is good news for consumers just cements the positive sentiment of the email.
Basically, Amazon fulfilled their legal obligation to notify customers, and they did it while not so subtle-y pushing their beliefs that the agency model was an anti-consumer mistake. When the remaining bookstores send out notifications, even if they do it in a dry fashion, the news has already spread: Good news for readers! When the publishers not involved in the settlement try to fight back, consumer sentiment is not going to be in their favor: Why aren’t these guys giving credits for the same issue the other ones did? Basically, by making this crystal clear for consumers-you’re getting Amazon credit or cold hard cash-it makes it really hard to oppose a settlement. Who wants to tell their customers no, when someone else said yes?
Edit: Looks like I was right on-check out the dry, legal, boring version Kobo just sent me:
This notice is to inform you of a recent settlement by the State Attorneys General related to a lawsuit brought against publishers regarding eBook pricing. We are providing notice to our customers about your ability to receive a credit as a service to our customers.
As a result of this settlement you are eligible for a partial credit based on select purchases from eBook publishers Hachette, HarperCollins, Penguin, MacMillan and Simon & Schuster that were purchased through Kobo.
You do not need to do anything to receive your credit. It will be applied to your Kobo account automatically and you’ll receive another email letting you know when it’s available.
If you prefer to receive your credit via a check please record your settlement ID: [redacted] and click here to learn more.
To read about your rights under the settlements or if you’d like more information on this settlement, click here or contact us.
Thank you for being a Kobo customer.
The Kobo Team
The really hard part here, of course, is waiting until February to get any credits!