E-book buyers to begin receiving payments for e-book lawsuit involving Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, others

Beginning June 21, millions of e-book purchasers will receive credits and checks for twice their losses following an antitrust lawsuit filed against Apple Inc. and five of the nation’s largest publishing companies for their roles in an alleged e-book price-fixing scheme, according to Hagens Berman, a law firm that litigated the case jointly with the United States Department of Justice and attorneys general from 33 U.S. states and territories.

Consumers will receive a $6.93 credit for every e-book that was a New York Times bestseller, and a $1.57 credit for other e-books. Credits will be automatically sent directly into the accounts of consumers at major book retailers, including Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Apple. Retailers will issue emails and put the credits in the accounts simultaneously.

If e-book purchasers requested a check in lieu of a credit, they will receive a check. If purchasers received a credit during the first round of distribution of publisher settlements, and they did not opt out, they will automatically receive a credit. 

The combined $400 million that will go to consumers follows the final stage in the lawsuit in which the Supreme Court denied an appeal from Apple. Attorneys calculated damages based on the books purchased and worked cooperatively with retailers to calculate the award for each class member.

Let's back up and look at history of the whole matter. In April 2012 the United States Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple, Hachette SA, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin and Simon & Schuster in New York district court, claiming collusion over ebook pricing. The brouhaha centers on Apple’s move to change the way that publishers charged for e-books as it prepared to introduce its first iPad in 2010.

Traditionally, publishers sold books to retailers for roughly half of the recommended cover price. Under that “wholesale model,” booksellers were then free to offer those books to customers for less than the cover price if they wished.

Apple suggested moving to an “agency model,” under which the publishers would set the price of the book and Apple would take a 30% cut. However, Apple also insisted that publishers couldn’t let rival retailers sell the same book at a lower price.