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Very few details were provided regarding the investigation in the hearing, other than that the probe would look into possible anticompetitive practices in the way of e-book sales

Earlier this week, it was discovered that the European Commission had launched an antitrust investigation to determine if international e-book publishers were taking part in anticompetitive practices, and now the U.S. Justice Department is jumping onboard the investigation as well.

The European Commission's investigation specifically targets five e-book publishers who may have been practicing anticompetitive tactics with the help of Apple and its e-book store iBooks. The five publishers in question are Hachette Livre (Lagardère Publishing France), Harper Collins (News Corp., U.S.A.), Simon & Schuster (CBS Corp., U.S.A.), Penguin (Pearson Group, United Kingdom) and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holzbrinck (owner of inter alia Macmillan, Germany).

Now, the U.S. announced its involvement in the e-books investigation at a Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday.

Very few details were provided regarding the investigation in the hearing, other than that the probe would look into possible anticompetitive practices in the way of e-book sales.

Also, the U.S. is roping Amazon into its investigation as well. According to reports, Attorneys general in Connecticut and Texas are looking into whether e-book retailers like Amazon and Apple are using pricing tactics that are "harmful to consumers," mainly referring to the e-book industry's switch from a wholesale model, where retailers set the price of e-books, to an agency model, where publishers set the price of e-books.

Back when Amazon was one of the only e-book retailers in town with its Kindle, e-books were set at a price of $9.99. But since other competition, such as Apple's iBooks on its iPad, came to the table, bestselling e-book prices have risen to $14 and up.

Sources: Digital Trends, The Los Angeles Times

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By sigmatau on 12/8/2011 12:00:31 PM , Rating: 3
Um, no. It was free only at step 1. Amazon offered a product at a competitive price to books while no other company competed with them.

Apple joins the picture and gets many publishers to collude and connive with them to raise prices to $15. They seem to have gotten Amazon into it too. This type of product does not fit in the supply/demand BS setup we typically see. Now ebooks are the same price as printed books. That is complete BS.

I will say, that I agree that the government is doing its job.

"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home

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