Settlement reached in e-books pricing-fix case

BISMARCK A settlement was reached in a lawsuit filed by 33 states including North Dakota against computer giant Apple, Inc., and five of the six largest e-book publishers in the country. North Dakota residents will receive approximately $389,800 out of the $166 million nationwide settlement amount.

The partial settlement didn’t include Apple, but did include publishers Hachette Book Group Inc., HarperCollins Publishers LLC, Simon & Schuster Inc., and Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC, doing business as Macmillan and Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

Apple declined to settle the claims and the case against them is still pending in court.

The lawsuit claimed that the companies were involved in price fixing for certain e-book titles and that, because of these dealings, consumers were purchasing books for more than they should have been. Sales between April 1, 2010, and May 21, 2012, were effected by the price fixing, according to settlement refunds.

“Competitors cannot be allowed to get away with conspiring to fix and raise prices. The publishers and Apple violated the antitrust laws against price fixing,” said North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem in a prepared statement. “The refunds will allow consumers who were overcharged for e-books to recover some of the loss caused by this price fixing conspiracy.”


According to the settlement’s website (, consumers who purchased one or more e-books during the effected time range through, Barnes & Noble or Kobo are not required to file a claim to participate in the settlements. Those consumers will receive an email or postcard with their information.

Consumers who purchased an e-book from Sony are also not required to file a claim but will automatically receive a check in the mail for their purchases.

Purchases through any service not already mentioned, however, were required to submit a claim form by Oct. 21, 2013.