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E-book publishers’ $69m accord with states approved

NEW YORK — A US judge granted preliminary approval to a $69 million settlement between 49 states and three US publishers over alleged price fixing of electronic books.

US District Judge Denise Cote in New York gave initial approval to the accord with Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers LLC, and Simon & Schuster Inc. and all the states but Minnesota. The District of Columbia, US Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico also joined in the settlement.

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Hachette agreed to pay $31.7 million; HarperCollins, $19.6 million; and Simon & Schuster, $17.8 million, Cote said.

The states alleged the publishers unlawfully agreed to fix the prices of electronic books. The companies agreed to switch from the “traditional wholesale/retail model of distribution to an agency model with the major retailers of e-books in order to raise and fix the prices of electronic books to consumers,” the states said.

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