Lifestyle & Belief

Amazon e-book prices to be cut amid DOJ antitrust lawsuit


The Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple and major book publishers on April 11, 2012, alleging that they conspired with Apple to raise the price of e-books in order to limit competition.



Amazon will cut its e-book prices from $14.99 to $9.99 or less, following the Department of Justice's announcement of its antitrust lawsuit against Apple and five major publishers for allegedly fixing book prices, the New York Times reported

The DOJ has claimed that Apple colluded with publishers to fix prices and limit competition on the e-book market, and then erased the evidence, the Times reported. 

Three of the publishers — HarperCollins, Hachette, and Simon & Schuster — have already settled the charges, leaving Penguin and Macmillan to fight it out with Apple, who have all declined to settle. 

Amazon's price slashing could save consumers $252 million on Kindle e-books between now and 2015, Forbes reported

However, publishers and booksellers have argued that any advantages for consumers will be fleeting, and that the ultimate effect of the antitrust lawsuit and price lowering will give Amazon, which already controls 60 percent of the e-book market, a true monopoly, according to the Times. 

“Amazon must be unbelievably happy today,” Michael Norris, a book publishing analyst with Simba Information, told the Times. “Had they been puppeteering this whole play, it could not have worked out better for them.”

Pete Scheer, the Executive Director of the First Amendment Coalition, wrote a Huffington Post op-ed Thursday challenging the Times' take on the antitrust suit. 

"Apple isn't going away," Scheer wrote. "Nor Google or other companies that are interested in the e-book space. They would quickly re-enter the market, happily undercutting Amazon's hypothetical sky-high rates, and driving prices back to competitive levels. If Amazon behaves like a monopolist, it will lose its monopoly."

Amazon has so far declined to comment on the unfolding antitrust suit, other than to announce its new pricing scale.  

E-book sales have been booming, increasing from $78 million in sales in 2008 to $1.7 billion in 2011, according to Albert Greco, a book-industry expert at the business school of Fordham University, Reuters reported