Apple, Publishers Facing Antitrust Suit

The Justice Department reportedly plans to sue Apple and five top book publishers for allegedly colluding to raise the price of e-books. The five publishers facing a potential suit include CBS Corp.'s Simon & Schuster; Lagardere SCA's Hachette Book Group; Pearson PLC's Penguin Group; Macmillan, a unit of Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH; and News Corp.’s HarperCollins Publishers Inc., the Wall Street Journal reports, citing sources.

“Several of the parties have held talks to settle the antitrust case and head off a potentially damaging court battle,” WSJ reports, noting, however, that not every publisher has helped settlement discussions. As WSJ notes, even settlement would likely have wide-ranging repercussions for Apple and the publishing industry -- for one, likely leading to cheaper e-books for consumers.

At issue is Apple's move to change the way that publishers charged for e-books as it prepared to introduce its first iPad in early 2010. In essence, rather than letting publishers set their own price for books, Apple made sure that they didn’t let retailers sell the same book at a lower price. The Justice Department, therefore, believes that Apple and the publishers acted in concert to raise prices across the industry, WSJ reports.

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