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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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This is even more damning
By sprockkets on 12/8/2011 5:07:55 PM , Rating: 5
While this is news, this originally came out 3 months ago via a class action lawsuit:

A well known exchange between Apple's Steve Jobs and the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg functions as a key exhibit in the legal action. It took place during the unveiling of the iPad at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco in January 2010 and was documented in the New Yorker.

During the conversation, Mossberg asked Jobs why consumers should buy Edward Kennedy's book True Compass on the iPad for $14.99 when they could purchase it from Amazon for five dollars less.

"That won't be the case," Jobs replied.

This terse prediction had Mossberg scratching his head. "You won’t be $14.99 or they won’t be $9.99?"

"The price will be the same," Jobs insisted. "Publishers may withhold their books from Amazon. They're unhappy."

The lawsuit extracts this conclusion from the aforementioned dialog: "Absent Apple's knowledge of and participation in the unlawful conspiracy, Steve Jobs would not have been able to predict future e-book pricing with such startling accuracy."

Of course Steve had to just die before getting grilled before a judge, douche bag.

“We do believe we have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone.” -- Steve Jobs

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