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Investigation Will Lower eBook Pricing

An 18-month investigation by The Competition Bureau has resulted in a deal that will eliminate restrictions which kept eBook pricing high in Canada.  CBC News reports:

The federal agency has struck a deal with Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Macmillan and Simon & Schuster that will “allow retailers to discount e-books published by four of Canada’s largest e-book publishers,” it said in an email in response to queries by CBC News.

The publishers will also eliminate what is known as “most-favoured-nation” clauses in their agreements, which links the price, cost or commission of e-books sold at one retailer to the price, costs or commission of e-books sold at another retailer, the email said.

The bureau said it had reached a “consent agreement” on the pricing of e-books after an 18-month investigation into the e-book industry, that determined the publishers “engaged in conduct that resulted in reduced price competition for e-books in Canada.”

The four publishers have agreed to remove clauses in their distribution agreements that prevent individual retailers from offering discounts on e-books.

At The Competition Bureau’s website, a commissioner is quoted saying,

Businesses operating in the digital economy must realize that anti-competitive activity will not be tolerated, whether it occurs in the physical world or the digital one.

The Toronto Star noted:

The Bureau’s investigation into the electronic publishing industry is ongoing.

One news source quoted a Booknet report that “Booknet Canada reported last year that ebooks made up about 15 per cent of sales.” In reality, the percentage of total sales belonging to eBooks can vary considerably by category and age-interest.

Three of the four publishing groups mentioned in the report — HarperCollins, S&S, and Hachette — have Christian/Religious book imprints. Random House was not mentioned in any of today’s reporting.

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