Apple Getting Sued By The Government Over eBook Price-Fixing

The latest industry to take a look at new technology changing its model and unleashing a Vader-like “NNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOO!!!” is the publishing industry. Let’s see here: lots of power in a few corporate hands? Check. Increasing industry fragmentation? Check. And now they’ve got a lawsuit of their very, very own!

It’s over the price-fixing of ebooks in Apple’s iBookstore. Within hours of the Department of Justice announcing they were looking into it, sixteen other states had hopped on board.

Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen made the announcement on Wednesday afternoon just hours after the DoJ filed its antitrust suit in New York, saying that Apple, Macmillan, Penguin, and Simon & Schuster engaged in an “anticompetitive price-fixing scheme” when selling e-books through Apple’s iBookstore. “Publishers deserve to make money, but consumers deserve the price benefits of competition in an open and unrestricted marketplace,” Jepsen said in a statement. “Those interests clearly collided in this case and we are going to work to ensure the eBook market is open once again to fair competition.”

How valid is the suit? Put it to you this way: two of the publishers named in the various suits, Harper Collins and Hachette, have already chosen to settle. So, yeah, maybe hold off buying books on your iPad. Or maybe buy them from Amazon — which is slashing eBook prices right now — or Barnes and Noble.

(Image via Jeff Kubina on Flickr)