Business Management

Amazon sends money to Kindle readers affected by e-book price-fixing scandal

Check your e-mail: Amazon may have sent you some free money.

On Tuesday, the company sent notifications about credits that have been applied to ebook buyers' accounts. The payments are a result of the recently finalized price-fixing settlement that saw five of the major U.S. publishing companies agree with several states' attorneys general and class-action plaintiffs to pay millions in damages. The publishers paid up to avoid going to trial on charges that they had colluded with Apple to raise ebook prices. Apple refused to settle and went to trial last summer--and lost.

So why is Amazon giving you money? Well, because publishers raised prices, Amazon passed on that increase to you. If you bought a Kindle book published by Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, or Penguin between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012, you'll probably see a credit show up in your e-mail. The credit is automatically applied to future Kindle purchases, and expires after March 31, 2015.

You'll get $3.06 per New York Times bestseller and 73 cents per non-bestseller. That could be a hefty credit if you're a well-read Kindle owner. Minnesotans get more money: $3.93 per bestseller and 94 cents for every non-bestseller purchased.

Just because publishers are changing their ways doesn't mean Apple is taking the verdict lying down. The company last month filed an appeal of the price-fixing conviction, claiming that it "had no knowledge that the publishers were engaged in a conspiracy in December 2009 or at any other point." The Justice Department is expected to respond to Apple's appeal in May.


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