In the ongoing lawsuit over eBook pricing, the Department of Justice filled suit last year against all five major publishing houses in the U.S. You can follow Reader’s Entertainment backstory on this litigation by following this link.
The suit involved alleged price fixing and manipulation on eBooks by MacMillan, Hachette, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins and Apple. With MacMillan Publishing reaching an agreement, it leaves only Apple to deal with the DOJ.
Macmillan CEO John Sargent, CEO of MacMillan released the following statement regarding the settlement: “Our company is not large enough to risk a worst case judgment … A few weeks ago I got an estimate of the maximum possible damage figure. I cannot share the breathtaking amount with you, but it was much more than the entire equity of our company.”
“As a result of today’s settlement, Macmillan has agreed to immediately allow retailers to lower the prices consumers pay for Macmillan’s e-books,” said Jamillia Ferris, Antitrust Division Chief of Staff. The $70 million settlement was quickly approved by Judge Denise Cote.
The DOJ outlined the terms of the settlement:
Macmillan will immediately lift restrictions it has imposed on discounting and other promotions by e-book retailers and will be prohibited until December 2014 from entering into new agreements with similar restrictions. The proposed settlement agreement also will impose a strong antitrust compliance program on Macmillan, including requirements that it provide advance notification to the department of any e-book ventures it plans to undertake jointly with other publishers and regularly report to the department on any communications it has with other publishers. Also for five years, Macmillan will be forbidden from agreeing to any kind of most favored nation (MFN) provision that could undermine the effectiveness of the settlement.
The publishing industry is waiting to see if Apple will take the lawsuit all the way to court, or if they too will reach a settlement agreement.