February 28, 2021

Report: “Amazon Faces Class-Action Lawsuit Over eBook Pricing”

UPDATED Feb 4, 2021: Big Five Publishers Now Defendants in E-book Price-Fixing Suit (via PW)

The news comes after the initial complaint, first filed in the Southern District of New York on January 14 by Seattle-based firm Hagens Berman, portrayed the Big Five publishers—Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster—as “co-conspirators” in a bid to restrain competition in the e-book market, but had named only Amazon as a defendant. The amended complaint, filed on February 4, now pulls the publishers into the suit.

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—End Update—

From Andrew Albanese, Publishers Weekly:

The law firm that successfully sued Apple and five major publishers for colluding to fix e-book prices in 2011 has now filed a class action suit against Amazon, accusing the company of colluding with the Big Five publishers to restrain price competition in the e-book market.

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“In violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act, Defendant and the Big Five Co-conspirators agreed to various anti-competitive MFNs and anti-competitive provisions that functioned the same as MFNs,” the complaint states. “Amazon’s agreement with its Co-conspirators is an unreasonable restraint of trade that prevents competitive pricing and causes Plaintiffs and other consumers to overpay when they purchase e-books from the Big Five through an eBook retailer that competes with Amazon. That harm persists and will not abate unless Amazon and the Big Five are stopped.”

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From The Hill:

The lawsuit, filed by the firm Hagens Berman, follows a similar class action case the firm filed against Apple and the so-called Big Five in 2011. That case ended with Apple settling for $400 million and the publishers settling for millions more, the firm said.

The settlement also prevented the Big Five from interfering with retailers’ discounts for two years, resulting in lower and more competitive e-book pricing in 2013 to 2014, before the alleged price fixing deal Amazon and the publishers entered into in 2015, according to the complaint.

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From Reuters:

The lawsuit comes a day after Connecticut said it was investigating Amazon for potential anti-competitive behavior in its business selling digital books.

Amazon declined to comment.

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See Also: Full Text of Complaint

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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