Justice Dept. Sues Apple and Publishers Over E-Book Pricing; 3 Publishers Settle
By JULIE BOSMAN APRIL 11, 20129:19 p.m. | Updated
The Justice Department jumped directly into the fight over the future of digital books on Wednesday - and Amazon came out the winner.
In an action that could lower the price of e-books and shift the expanding market in Amazon's favor, the Justice Department slapped Apple and five of the largest book publishers with an antitrust lawsuit, charging that the companies colluded to raise the price of e-books.
The announcement, made in Washington by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and Sharis A. Pozen, the acting assistant attorney general of the Justice Department's antitrust division, capped a long investigation. The inquiry hinged on the question of whether publishers, at the urging of Steven P. Jobs, then Apple's chief executive, agreed to adopt a new policy in 2010 that in essence coordinated the price of newly released e-books at the price offered in Apple's iBookstore - typically between $12.99 and $14.99.
At the time, Apple with its blockbuster iPad was trying to challenge Amazon's hold on the e-book market. Amazon, the online retail giant, had become a kind of Walmart for the e-book business by lowering the price of most new and best-selling e-books to $9.99 - a price meant to stimulate sales of its own e-reading device, the Kindle.