Utah AG’s Office Joins Suit Against E-Book Publishers

(KCPW News)  Electronic book lovers in Utah might be getting a refund from some of the nation’s largest book publishers, who are being accused of anti-competitive conduct. The Utah Attorney General’s office has joined the District of Columbia and 30 other states in a lawsuit against Apple Inc., Penguin Group, Holtzbrinck Publishers and Macmillan Publishers alleging they inflated the price of e-book bestsellers. Assistant Attorney General Ron Ockie says traditionally, publishers have allowed retailers to set the prices.

“The prices of e-books would have remained lower than they have been during the period of time during which the illegal conduct has occurred. Therefore consumers are paying more or have paid more for e-books than they should have and would have without that conduct,” says Ockie.

Ockie says there are no definitive numbers on the amount Utah residents overpaid for e-books; however he says nationwide customers paid more than $100 million in overcharges.

“We do know that Utahns bought e-books that were affected by this conduct and we will determine how many there are and how much they overpaid that will be part of the litigation process,” says Ockie.

The state is also asking for a court order against those publishers to stop violating the law and to compensate consumers that have paid too much for their e-books.