Penguin Group Reaches Settlement With Justice Department Over E-Book Pricing

The Justice Department is close to wrapping up one more piece of the e-book pricing dispute that’s been going on for months, announcing today it had reached a settlement with Pearson Penguin Group. The government had alleged that Penguin, four other publishers and Apple had been in cahoots to unfairly fix e-book prixes.

Penguin is likely pleased with the settlement, which still has to be approved by a court, because it’s planning on combining with Randhom House and the anti-trust case could’ve mucked things up, reports the Wall Street Journal.

In April, the Justice Department filed its suit against the publishers and Apple, saying they all were in a conspiracy to raise e-book prices for consumers. But the group said they were simply teaming up to form a new agency pricing model that would let them compete with Amazon.com. The publishers didn’t like that Amazon often offered books at a discount price of $9.99.

The plan allowed the publishers to set retail prices and then e-book retailers like Apple would get a cut.

Penguin will have to end its agreements concerning the pricing policy with Apple and any other e-book retailers and must agree not to enter new agreements that constrain retailers’ ability to offer discounts for two years, under the terms of the U.S. settlement.

Three other of the five publishers have already agreed to settlements a lot like this one, but the DOJ says it’s still going after holdouts Apple and Macmillan.

Penguin maintains in a statement that it has “done nothing wrong and has no case to answer.” However, it’s “in everyone’s interests that the proposed Penguin Random House company should begin life with a clean sheet of paper.”

Penguin Settles With U.S. Over E-Book Pricing [Wall Street Journal]