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Apple accused of price-fixing on iBooks

Seattle-based law firm Hagens Berman filed a lawsuit against Apple for conspiring with publishers to fix book prices in the iBook store

The iBook reader feature in the iPad is one of the most appreciated for its magnificent UI and a huge library of titles available online which you can pay, download and read. But if a certain Seattle-based Law Firm is true – the Cupertino based mobile giant has a lot to answer to the readers.

Steve Berman is an American plaintiff's lawyer who founded and is Managing Partner of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, a law firm based out of Seattle, Washington. The firm recently filed a lawsuit against Apple saying the company had been colluding with publishers to fix iBookstore prices – as reported by Electronista. The suit, filed at Northern District of California court, includes popular publishers like Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin, and Simon & Schuster.

The accusation is that Apple lets the publisher dictate any price for its books. The store keeps its commission alright but this leverage lets the publishers keep an artificial high price for its popular titles. Electronista also mentions that this apparently violates the Sherman antitrust act, the Cartwright Act, and the Unfair Competition Act.

Amazon has long been the leader in the e-Book business but rarely keeps the price of its books above $1, which at times gives fewer margins to the publishers – especially when a book becomes extremely popular and reader would have paid more for it. Apple broke this shackle to give the publishers the freedom to decide their price, resulting in the prices of popular books going up to $15 or even more.


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Pallab Jyotee Hazarika, 2011-08-10 (Update: 2012-05-26)