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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 3DoubleD on 12/8/2011 1:30:11 PM , Rating: 2
Wow, that sounds completely logical as well as legitimate. The publishers can really set whatever price they want. It's the customers that decide whether the price is reasonable. I've certainly been disappointed by ebook pricing given the restrictions that are imposed on your purchase.

Personally, I'd like to see more authors independently selling their ebooks and prices falling around $5/book. We need to cut the greedy, unnecessary middle men out. Same goes for music.

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