Book publisher Penguin has agreed to a $75 million settlement with consumers and states in the ebook pricing lawsuit, several months after it settled with the Department of Justice. The other publishers in the case — HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Hachette and Macmillan — had already settled with both the states and the DOJ. Penguin's settlement is by far the largest that any of the publishers have reached.
The news comes just a couple of weeks before Apple is set to face the DOJ in court. In the trial, beginning June 3, the DOJ will argue that Apple conspired with book publishers to fix ebook prices. Apple counters that the system of agency pricing it arranged with the publishers is the same as what it uses with all other retailers in iTunes, and that the launch of iBookstore created competition in the marketplace.
Under the proposed settlement, announced Wednesday morning, Penguin would pay $75 million to consumers represented by 33 states' attorneys general and by Hagens Berman, the Seattle-based law firm that filed the class action suit against Apple and publishers in 2011. The settlement still has to be approved by the courts, in a hearing set to take place later this summer.