As part of the settlement terms in several states’ Attorneys General lawsuits against some of the Big Six publishers over alleged ebook price fixing, Amazon customers received some welcome news today: they would be receiving account credits on eligible purchases. Three publishers, Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, and Simon&Schuster, settled out of court in the resulting lawsuits and the monies paid will result in a credit to customers who purchased digital titles published by those three parties.
Amazon customers need take no action, but will notice an account credit typically ranging between thirty cents and $1.32 per eligible title purchased between April 2010 and May 2012. Those customers who would prefer to receive a check for the amount they are owed may do so by following the guidelines outlined in an email from Amazon.
The publishers, along with Macmillan and Penguin, were accused of collaborating with Apple to artificially raise the prices of ebooks under what they still maintain is an acceptable and legal “agency model.” At the time of the alleged anti-trust collaborations, Amazon was operating under the wholesale model that it had always employed for ebooks. This model allowed Amazon to sell ebooks from the major publishers at what was often a lesser price than Amazon had paid for them, a move the retailer employed to encourage customers to purchase the then-newly introduced Kindle e-readers.
It has been estimated that the alleged collusion between the publishers and the resulting requirement that Amazon raise its ebook prices cost consumers around $250 million. This account credit to Amazon customers is intended to recoup some of those consumer dollars.