Apple E-Book Settlement Provides Indie Opportunity

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The American Booksellers Association has created new DIY materials to help booksellers educate their customers about their payment options under the Apple E-Book Settlement. Under the $400 million settlement, consumers who are part of the class can opt to receive a check instead of a credit from the retailer from whom they bought the e-book. This option allows consumers to spend the money wherever they chose, including at their local, independent bookstore.

“Many consumers may not know that they have the option to choose cash over a credit,” said ABA CEO Oren Teicher. “This provides a great opportunity for indie booksellers to inform their customers that this option is available — and that they have the choice to put their settlement money back into their community. It’s their money, and booksellers can help make clear to their customers they can choose an indie bookstore — or other independent retailer.”

Importantly, consumers must choose the check option by October 31, 2014.

In 2012, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and 33 states brought the antitrust suit against Apple and five publishers. The suit alleged that Apple, Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin, and Simon & Schuster conspired to raise, fix, and stabilize the retail price for newly released and bestselling trade e-books in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act and various state laws. While the publishers settled their cases without admitting wrongdoing, Apple continued the legal fight, insisting that it had done nothing wrong.

Apple went to trial in June 2013, and the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York found the company liable for violating antitrust laws. The court has set a date for a second trial to determine the amount of damages, if any, Apple should pay. The amount paid to consumers will be decided based on the outcome of Apple’s current appeal regarding the court’s finding of liability.

Here is a look at some of the key details regarding the settlement:

  • If Apple loses its appeal, it will pay consumers $400 million. The appeal process could also result in a lower payout, or if the liability finding is reversed and the case dismissed Apple will not have to pay consumers anything.
     
  • If Apple is found liable, any consumer who received payment from the publishers’ settlement should expect to receive payment from the Apple settlement. If the finding is for $400 million, the amount a consumer receives from the settlement could very well be twice what a consumer received in the publishers’ settlement.
     
  • Consumers are part of the class if they purchased one or more qualifying e-books published by the five settling publishers, and their purchases were made from April 1, 2010, through May 21, 2012. They must have been residents of the U.S. or five U.S. territories at the time of the purchase.
     
  • Most consumers should have received a notice by e-mail or postcard. Any consumers who did not receive information and believe they should be part of the settlement should call (866) 686-9333 or e-mail info@EBookLawsuits.com.
     
  • Consumers who purchased their e-books through Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, or Kobo will receive a credit to their account automatically unless they ask for a check by October 31, 2014. (Consumers who received a check in the publishers’ settlement will be issued a check automatically.) To request a check, consumers should go to ebooklawsuits.com/mainpage/crq.aspx.
     
  • Consumers who purchased through Sony will receive a check automatically. Consumers who purchased through Google and have already filed a claim form and received a check in the publishers’ settlement will receive a check automatically. Consumers that have not filed a claim form must do so at ebooklawsuits.com/mainpage/ocf.aspx.

For more information on the Apple E-Book Settlement, contact ABA Senior Public Policy Analyst David Grogan at dave@bookweb.org, or click here for an FAQ.