E-books on Blumenthal's radar

Keith Loria Aug. 3, 2010, 11:55am


HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) - Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced on Monday that his office has started looking into potentially anticompetitive e-book deals between large e-book publishers and two of the industry's biggest sellers.

Blumenthal fears that Amazon.com and Apple ahave made deals with publishing giants Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, HarperCollins and Penguin that could block competitors from offering cheaper e-book prices.

Both companies have allegedly received "most favored nation" clauses in their contracts with these large e-book publishers, which guarantees that they will receive the best prices for e-books over any competitors.

"These agreements among publishers, Amazon and Apple appear to have already resulted in uniform prices for many of the most popular e-books-potentially depriving consumers of competitive prices," Blumenthal said.

"The e-book market is set to explode - with analysts predicting that e-book readers will be among the holiday season's biggest electronic gifts - warranting prompt review of the potential anti-consumer impacts."

Blumenthal wrote both Amazon and Apple expressing his concerns. He also invited both companies to meet with him at his office to talk about the situation.

Blumenthal is running for U.S. Senate.

In a preliminary review of pricing for several New York Times Bestseller books, Blumenthal's office discovered that e-book prices offered by Amazon, Apple, Borders and Barnes & Noble were identical.

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