Reuters reports today that Apple has responded to a Justice Department accusation that the company colluded with publishers to increase e-book pricing. The Cupertino company asserts that it negotiated separately with the publishers, reaching different agreements with each one.
But Apple said the publishers had decided, independent of Apple, to eliminate discounts on wholesale book prices of e-books, to sell lucrative hardcover books first to bookstores in a practice called windowing and to take other measures to push Amazon to raise prices.
In an April 26 court filing, Apple said that it had approached publishers to create an online bookstore that would eventually become the iBookstore. Apple asserted that it had demanded a 30% commission, assurances the publishers would not undercut prices paid to Apple, and had demanded that the practice of “windowing” be scrapped.
Early negotiations were reported by Apple as “tough,” with Apple demanding a 30% commission and price caps. Each publisher immediately responded with their own counterproposals.
Apple also lays the blame for any collusion at the feet of the publishers, claiming that before the company entered the e-book market, publishers were already engaged in a battle to break Amazon’s grip on the low-cost e-book marketplace.
Originally filed in April of 2012, the lawsuit included HarperCollins, Simon and Schuster, Hachette Book Group, Macmillan and Penguin. The Justice Department has since settled with the publishers, and has since concentrated on Apple.