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Friday, August 30, 2013, 01:20 pm PT (04:20 pm ET)

Publishers propose payout of $3 per NYT bestseller in e-book settlement

Two of the publishers named as colluders with Apple in the Justice Department's iBookStore price fixing antitrust case against Apple have already begun contacting former customers, alerting them that a "plan of distribution" has been proposed to the court for a final settlement payout.

Book publishers

Late Apple cofounder Steve Jobs introduces iBooks iPad app and partner publishers in 2010. | Source: Apple


Penguin and Mamillan, two of the five publishers named in the case surrounding Apple's iBookStore, have already created a site explaining to potential claimants how they can claim their portion of the a settlement the two publishing houses reached with the U.S. Department of Justice. Part of the plan includes a combining of the $93.21 million from the Macmillan and Penguin settlements with $69.04 million from prior settlements into a central fund, to be distributed at a later date.

If accepted by the court, the proposal would grant customers who purchased a New York Times bestseller from the iBookStore to $3.06 per title, while those purchasing other titles would be entitled to $0.73 per book. Minnesota residents may receive a higher price per e-book as the state's representation did not participate in the earlier settlements between state attorneys general and Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster. Counsel representing Minnesota consumers successfully negotiated a higher yielding settlement with the three publishers.

The most recent notification applies only to customers that bought books from Penguin or Macmillain through iTunes. Payments will be distributed to claimants following a hearing on December 6, 2013, assuming all appeals are resolved.

In July, U.S. District Court Judge Denise Cote found Apple guilty of e-book price fixing. By the time Cote handed down her decision, though, the publishers that had been accused alongside Apple had long since settled with the DOJ.

The DOJ has requested that an external antitrust monitor be installed at Apple, so as to ensure that the iPad maker no longer engages in anticompetitive action. The Department is also calling for changes to the way purchases work when filed through the Kindle app on an iOS device.

While its publishing partners have capitulated, Apple has continued to resist the Justice Department's actions. This week, Apple's counsel entered into court records a memo saying that the ebook trial was "plainly improper" and that the Department's recommendations would lead to an unfair advantage for Amazon, the dominant player in the ebook segment.