If you bought an e-book from major book retailers between April 2010 and May 2012, chances are good that you could soon be enjoying some free stuff.
The store credits appearing in consumers’ iTunes, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo accounts (or checks in mailboxes) are part of a $450 million settlement Apple must pay after the tech giant was found guilty of conspiring with five major publishers to jack up the price of e-books. As Farhad Manjoo wrote for Slate in 2013, Apple’s brazen approach—“telegraphing their moves to the press, memorializing their discussions over email, hinting at their anti-competitive agreements in public statements and strategizing in swanky restaurants”—was successful in raising the prices of e-books. He wrote:
Overnight, the average price of e-books rose by nearly 20 percent, with some best-sellers shooting up by close to 50 percent. Books that used to sell for $9.99 were now $12.99 or $14.99, prices that Apple and the publishers believed would threaten Amazon.com, the undisputed king of e-books.
Ultimately, however, the higher prices doomed Apple’s iBookstore, Manjoo wrote. And when the Justice Department pressed antitrust charges in 2012, Apple decided to go to trial instead of following the publishers’ examples and striking a deal with the government. Now, years later, Apple is paying a steep price. The legal saga came to an end in March when the Supreme Court declined to hear Apple’s appeal of a lower court’s decision that it pay out millions for “engaging in a conspiracy that violated federal antitrust laws,” according to Reuters.
Hagens Berman, the law firm that brought the class-action lawsuit against Apple and the five publishers, said in a statement that “consumers will receive a $6.93 credit for every e-book that was a New York Times bestseller, and a $1.57 credit for other e-books.” It said:
Attorneys say the process is uniquely simple for consumers—credits will be automatically sent directly into the accounts of consumers at major book retailers, including Amazon.com Inc., Barnes & Noble Inc., Kobo Inc. and Apple. Retailers will issue emails and put the credits in the accounts simultaneously.
So check your accounts, stock up on a beach read or two, and thank Apple and its price-jacking ways.