The U.S. Department of Justice filed an antitrust suit against Apple Inc. and five of the “big six” book publishers last week over e-book prices. The department alleges that the publishers and Apple entered into illegal pricing agreements that artificially jacked up e-book prices in order to prevent retailers, mainly the online site Amazon, from devaluing them.
The “big three” of textbook publishers—Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, McGraw-Hill Education, and Pearson—are not named in the suit, even though Pearson’s Penguin division is targeted. The suit is related to trade e-books, or consumer books, which don’t include textbooks, children’s picture books, or reference materials.
In a January deal with Apple to publish e-textbooks, those three companies agreed to offer the books at $14.99 each.
Three publishers Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster have already agreed to settle with the Justice Department. Apple, Penguin, and Macmillan have not.
A version of this article appeared in the April 18, 2012 edition of Education Week as U.S. Files Lawsuit Over E-Book Pricing