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They offered to let Amazon and other retailers to sell ebooks at a discount for two years

An Apple ebook deal may be in the works after a long 10 months of investigation by the European Union (EU).

Apple and four major publishers that are being investigated have started offering antitrust concessions in an effort to ward off fines and further trouble. The four publishers are Harper Collins (News Corp., U.S.A.), Simon & Schuster (CBS Corp., U.S.A.), Hachette Livre (Lagardère Publishing France) and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holzbrinck (owner of inter alia Macmillan, Germany).

Penguin (Pearson Group, United Kingdom) is also being investigated, but did not submit a proposal.

One offer from Apple and the four publishers was to allow Amazon and other retailers to sell ebooks at a discount for two years. The Commission is now looking into whether these concessions are enough by taking opinions from the industry.

Last December, the European Commission opened a formal antitrust investigation into whether the five international e-book publishers had been practicing anti-competitive tactics with the help of Apple and its e-book store iBooks. More specifically, the Commission wanted a closer look at the agency pricing model that the publishers adopted with Apple, which allows publishers to set a price for their ebooks and Apple takes a 30 percent cut. However, the publishers can't sell those same books on other retail sites like Amazon for a lower price.

This was not only seen as anticompetitve by the European Commission, but also the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). DOJ sued Apple and the publishers in April 2012 over the agency pricing model.

Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster and Hachette Livre decided to settle the case with the U.S. DOJ. However, Apple, Penguin and Macmillan have decided to fight the antitrust case.

The U.S. bench trial in the Apple e-book case will start June 3, 2012.

Source: Reuters



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