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Justice Dept settles e-book case with Macmillan

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 8, 2013 at 12:20 pm •  Published: February 8, 2013
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Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller declined to comment on the MacMillan settlement.

Before the case brought by the Justice Department, retailers sold e-book versions of new releases and best-sellers for what one company's CEO called the "wretched $9.99 price point." The government says that as a result of the conspiracy, consumers were typically forced to pay $12.99, $14.99 or more for the most popular e-books.

So far, the settlements in the case with other publishers have not led to a noticeable drop in e-book prices, as publishers had feared.

Before the government sued last April, the publishing executives were desperate to get Amazon.com — the marketer of Kindle e-book readers — to raise the $9.99 price point it had set for the most popular e-book titles. That was substantially below the publishers' hardcover prices. Apple had launched its iBooks store, and the publishers had hoped Apple would counteract the power of Amazon.

After Amazon introduced the Kindle in 2007, e-book sales had surged. They represented just 2 percent of all titles sold in the United States that year but soared to 25 percent in 2011. In 2010, about 114 million e-books were sold at a total cost of $441.3 million.

On Friday, news of the Macmillan settlement appeared to have little impact on Amazon. Its stock price was up 80 cents, less than 1 percent.

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Associated Press writers Hillel Italie and Larry Neumeister in New York contributed to this report.