Apple this week started paying out a $400 million settlement of a class-action lawsuit for e-book price fixing, and you might get some free stuff out of it.
Eligible customers — people who bought an e-book published by Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, Simon & Schuster, Penguin Books or Macmillan Publishers between April 1, 2010, and May 21, 2012 — got a $6.93 credit for each New York Times bestseller bought during that time period, and $1.57 for other e-books. That is double what customers lost due to the price fixing.
If you didn’t buy an e-book book during that time period from those publishers — or like me you prefer paper — then no credit for you.
The settlement applies to customers of major book retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple and Kobo.
Here’s the gist of the lawsuit: Amazon used to sell e-books for Kindle at a price of $9.99. Apple, looking to compete in the e-book sphere “illegally colluded with a group of five publishing companies to manipulate the e-book market by artificially raising the price of e-books, lowering competition and charging consumers higher prices,” according to an analysis by Hagens Berman, a Seattle law firm that helped litigate the lawsuit. That led to price increases on e-books of 30 to 50 percent. Amazon was not involved in the lawsuit, which included 33 attorneys general.
Apple lost a trial in June 2013 and agreed to pay $400 million in a settlement to consumers if its appeals were denied. An appeals court denied Apple’s claim and the Supreme Court refused to hear its case, so the settlement went into effect. The publishers had agreed to a $166 million settlement before the trial.
Those eligible for settlement credits got an email from Amazon on Tuesday detailing the credit, what it is good for (anything on Amazon except for gift cards and some subscriptions) and when it expires (June 24 of next year). Eligible customers don’t have to do anything to receive their credit; it has been automatically applied to their Amazon account.
As an example, here’s an email received by one GeekWire staffer this week.
You now have a credit of $XX.XX in your Amazon account. Apple, Inc. (Apple) funded this credit to settle antitrust lawsuits brought by State Attorneys General and Class Plaintiffs about the price of electronic books (eBooks). As a result of this Settlement, qualifying eBook purchases from any retailer are eligible for a credit. You previously received an email informing you that you were eligible for this credit. The Court in charge of these cases has now approved the Apple Settlement. If you did not receive that email or for more information about your credit, please visit www.amazon.com/applebooksettlement.
You don’t have to do anything to claim your credit, we have already added it to your Amazon account. We will automatically apply your available credit to your purchase of qualifying items through Amazon, an Amazon device or an Amazon app. The credit applied to your purchase will appear as a gift card in your order summary and in your account history. In order to spend your credit, please visit the Kindle bookstore or Amazon. If your account does not reflect this credit, please contact Amazon customer service.
Your credit is valid for one year and will expire after June 24, 2017, by order of the Court. If you have not used it, we will remind you of your credit before it expires.