EU ends e-book price-fixing probe

BERLIN — The European Commission settled its antitrust case against Apple and four book publishing groups over e-book price fixing Thursday, in what was called a victory for the leading online seller,, and a setback for publishers.

The investigation ended after Apple, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette, and Holtzbrinck agreed to end their attempt to set prices for e-books. Under agreements made in 2010, publishers could set prices, with the retailer acting as an agent taking a commission. Apple championed this model.

For print books, publishers act as wholesalers, charging retailers about half the cover price and allowing retailers to set their own price.


Publishers fear Amazon can sell e-books for less than it pays, taking a loss in the short term to drive smaller competitors out of business.

EU officials said collusion by publishers would lead to higher prices for consumers.