EU raids publishers in ebook price-fixing probe
That's the headline in a story from The Telegraph today, written by Rupert Neate.
The drama continues with the wording, "European investigators raided several major publishers on Wednesday as the worldwide probe into allegations of price-fixing of ebooks stepped up a gear." The actual wording is more important than usual so I'll do more quoting than paraphrasing. The bracketed comments are mine.
' The European Commission said its agents had "reason to believe" that several unnamed companies across Europe "may have violated EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and other restrictive business practices".
The raids comes after the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) last month launched a similar probe into the prices of ebooks, which can cost more than twice as much as their printed cousins. [Exactly.]
The OFT's investigation focuses on publishers' ability to set ebook prices using "agency" pricing.
. . .
The discrepancy has led to some electronic books costing far more than a hardback version of the same book.
. . .
Earlier this year, Amazon said sales of ebooks for its Kindle ereader had overtaken paperback sales in the US for the first time. A similar investigation is under way in the US.
An EU Competition Commission spokesman refused to name the publishing houses raided, but said investigators were "working closely with the OFT".
Penguin, the publisher owned by Pearson, and Harper Collins, which is owned by News Corporation, are both being investigated by the OFT, but were not raided by EU investigators.
Harry Potter publisher Bloomsbury, which has declared 2011 "the year of the ebook", refused to state whether or not it had been raided.
Publishers refused to comment on the legality of the agency pricing model. '
The Harry Potter books have never been made available on e-books, however, because the author doesn't want them available in that format.
But, this was really quick action, relatively speaking. Some thought it would take a year before any actual investigation.
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