Amazon is facing a new lawsuit alleging that a deal between the company and five book publishers has created higher prices on e-books, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The lawsuit filed by law firm Hagens Berman in a federal district court in New York, alleges that the publishers pay high commissions and other costs to Amazon, which in turn increases the retail price of e-books sold on the platform. Due to the deal between Amazon and the publishers— HarperCollins Publishers, Hachette Book Group, Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Macmillan — the Amazon price is the price the publishers charge other retailers as well, preventing other sellers from offering the e-books at lower prices, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims the five publishers account for 80 percent of books sold in the US, and calls the arrangement a “conspiracy to fix the retail price of e-books,” which it argues is a violation of antitrust law.
In another e-book lawsuit back in 2012, the Justice Department accused Apple of conspiring with major book publishers in an attempt to compete with Amazon, by inflating e-book prices above the $9.99 price that Amazon preferred. Hagens Berman was lead counsel in the Apple case as well. The publishers settled, but. Apple went to court and lost, eventually agreeing to a $450 million settlement. With $400 million issued as refunds to consumers. Apple denied any wrongdoing in regard to e-book pricing.
Amazon declined to comment, as did Penguin Random House. The other publishers named in the lawsuit did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Verge on Sunday.
The lawsuit comes a day after the state of Connecticut announced it was investigating. Amazon for potential anti-competitive behaviour in its sales of ebooks. A spokesperson for Connecticut Attorney General William. Tong confirmed on Wednesday that Amazon had cooperated with a subpoena requesting. Documents relating to its dealings with the Big Five.
Amazon declined to comment on the New York lawsuit when approached by Reuters.
Hagens Berman sued Apple and the Big Five publishers for fixing ebook prices in. 2011, in a case that would eventually lead to suits from several US states and the. Department of Justice, which accused Apple of colluding in order to break up Amazon.com’s dominance in the ebook market.