Amazon Grabs Major e-Book Win

Get ready for $9.99 e-books
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 7, 2012 9:08 AM CDT
Amazon Grabs Major e-Book Win
In this Sept. 28, 2011 file photo, the Kindle Fire is displayed at a news conference, in New York.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

An e-book price-fixing settlement is a victory for Amazon—and could pave the way to lower prices for consumers. A federal judge has approved a settlement between three publishers and the Justice Department after officials argued that a total of five publishers were teaming up with Apple to boost prices and limit Amazon's ability to discount them. Now, Amazon will be able to cut prices to earlier levels—around $9.99, or cheaper. That could exert serious pressure on the entire market, experts tell the New York Times.

"Everybody competing with Amazon in the e-book market had better fasten their seat belts," says a publishing consultant. Now, the three publishers in the settlement— HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, and Hachette—must terminate their Apple contracts and any other deals that prevent retailers from setting prices. The publishers also face a two-year "cooling-off period" in which they can't sign new deals with similar restrictions. Two other publishers, plus Apple itself, refused to join in the settlement, meaning a trial next summer. The losers in all this? Independent bookstores, says an Authors Guild leader, who will struggle even more to compete with lowered prices. (Read more Amazon stories.)

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