The European Union regulators are about to deliver the results of their enquiry into the e-book price antitrust affair, related to Apple and four publishers and their restrictions regarding Amazon. This means that Amazon is free from restrictions, that ones that Apple strongarmed publishers to impose to the retailer giant.
Amazon would then be able to sell e-books cheaper than its rivals on the vast and rapidly growing market of publishers. Apparently, the losing parties decided to fold their cards when they realized they’re facing long years of court battle against a company that’s actually helping them sell their content. Meanwhile officially the EU Commission is saying that the investigation is not finished yet, while Apple and Amazon declined to comment. Two months ago, Apple and the publishers proposed to let retailers set their prices of discounts for 2 years and suspend “most favoured nation” contracts for 5 years.
This means that Simon & Schuster, News Corp’s HarperCollins, Lagardere SCA’s Hachette Livre and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck (owner of Macmillan) are not allowed to make deals with rival retailers to sell their e-books cheaper than Apple, that sounds like a strange monopoly. This means that Apple’s prices cannot be undercut, which contradicts the laws of free competition. The EU antitrust authorities were fast on the case and now it appears that they’ve reached a decision and they’re waiting for a new offer.
If Apple is found guilty of breaching EU rules, they could be fined up to 10% of their global sales, meaning they could reach $15.6 billion in the case of Apple, based on its fiscal year. Do you think it could happen? I think that Apple could take down the entire e-book industry with it, if it tumbled down…