If you’ve wondered why eBook prices always seemed so high even though you were just buying a digital copy of a book, now we might have at least part of the answer. In a move that surprised almost nobody who follows this kind of thing, the U.S. Justice Department has today filed an antitrust lawsuit against publishers including Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin and Apple alleging the companies conspired to fix electronic book prices.
According to the suit, the government wants publishers to let Amazon and other retailers decide what to charge customers, based on the wholesale price of the product. At the moment, publishers decide what price eBooks will be sold for.
This would, in theory, allow for more competition and see better pricing for consumers. Something, if true, most consumers would probably agree is a great idea.
What it will really mean is anyone’s guess at this point. You can bet Apple and other publishers will defend this suit with everything they have so don’t expect this to be resolved anytime soon.