Attorney General of Connecticut investigating agreements on e-books

On 2 August 2010 the Attorney General of Connecticut announced an investigation into agreements between e-book publishers and sellers that may encourage coordinated pricing and prevent discounting of e-books.

In particular, so-called “most favored nation” provisions in agreements between sellers of e-books such as Amazon and Apple and publishers such as Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, HarperCollins and Penguin may deter publishers from offering discounts to Amazon and Apple’s competitors as any lowered prices would have to be offered also to Amazon and Apple. Coupled with the switch from a wholesale pricing model to an “agency model” (in which publishers instead of the sellers set the prices), the Attorney General raised concerns about the agreements achieving or maintaining uniform prices for e-books. In fact, a preliminary review by the Attorney General’s office showed that the prices of Amazon, Apple, Borders and Barnes and Noble for certain e-book bestsellers were identical. [Juha Vesala]

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