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Canadian antitrust bureau reaches deal with Apple and e-book publishers

Canada's Competition Bureau on Friday announced an agreement with Apple and three e-book publishers, allowing other sellers such as Amazon and Kobo to offer discounts on titles, despite the first group's attempts to keep prices higher.


Apple's closing slide in its e-book antitrust case. | Source: U.S. District Court


The participating publishers include Hachette, Macmillian, and Simon & Schuster, Reuters said. The Bureau noted however that it hasn't been able to reach an agreement with a fourth company, HarperCollins, and has filed an application to try and halt anti-competitive practices.

Prior to launching the iBooks Store in 2010 alongside the iPad, Apple entered into arrangements with five major publishers which saw them switch to an agency model, and perhaps more importantly grant Apple a "most favored nation" status. That meant that industry e-book prices could go no lower than iBooks, forcing Amazon to raise its prices across the board.

Prior to the arrival of iBooks, Amazon was typically charging $10 for an e-book. Since then standard prices have been a few dollars higher.

A 2013 U.S. trial found Apple guilty of conspiring with publishers, thanks in part to evidence like an email from former CEO Steve Jobs which specifically identified Amazon as a target. The company tried to appeal the matter to the Supreme Court, but had that attempt shot down, leaving it to pay out settlements to various parties.

In a twist, earlier this month the company agreed to sever an exclusive audiobook deal with Amazon's Audible to avoid possible antitrust penalties in Europe. German publishers and booksellers had pointed out that together, Apple and Amazon were controlling over 90 percent of audiobook downloads in the country.