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Department of Justice Suing Apple For E-Book Pricing Scheme

Spencer Platt, Getty Images

Hope you like that new E-book you just bought from Apple. You may have paid more for it than you had to.

The U.S. Department of Justice has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple, along with 5 of the nation’s biggest book publishers, for conspiring to raise the prices of their E-book . The move apparently comes as a retaliation of sorts against Amazon.com, who has been offering the publishers’ books at a very low price.

In a civil antitrust lawsuit, the Justice Department alleged that CEOs of the publishing companies met regularly in private dining rooms of upscale Manhattan restaurants to discuss how to respond to steep discounting of their e-books by Amazon.com Inc., a practice they disliked. The executives also called and emailed each other to craft a solution to what one of them called “the wretched $9.99 price point,” the suit said.

The five publishers and Apple hatched an arrangement that lifted the price of many best-selling e-books to $12.99 or $14.99, according to the suit. The publishers then banded together to impose that model on Amazon, the government alleged.

Three of the publishing companies in the suit have already settled with the Department of Justice, but the department will proceed with the suit against Apple and the remaining two companies. Well, I suppose that’s one way to deal with your competitors’ lower prices, however sneaky and underhanded it may be.

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