$400 million on its way to e-book buyers

Publishers and Apple paying twice the amount lost by consumers

If you're a big reader, watch your mail and check your online e-book accounts closely. Apple and five big publishers are dishing out $400 million to consumers beginning tomorrow as a long-running antitrust class action suit concludes.

The money, which will be disbursed beginning tomorrow, represents twice the amount consumers allegedly lost because of the actions of Apple and the publishers. 

Consumers will receive a $6.93 credit for every e-book which was a New York Times bestseller, and a $1.57 credit for other e-books.

The process is simple. Credits will be automatically applied to customers' accounts at major book retailers, including Amazon.com Inc., Barnes & Noble Inc., Kobo Inc., and Apple. Retailers will issue emails and put the credits in the accounts simultaneously.

If e-book purchasers requested a check in lieu of a credit, they will receive a check. If purchasers received a credit during the first round of distribution of publisher settlements, and they did not opt out, they will automatically receive a credit.

Big bucks

The payout follows the Supreme Court's refusal to hear an appeal from Apple. It's one of the most successful damage recoveries ever achieved in an antrust suit.

“To make this settlement effective and accessible for consumers, our team faced a sizable undertaking that entailed almost constant contact with the retailers to make sure the credits will be applied to consumer accounts across the country,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman, the lead plaintiffs law firm. “This is the second round of distribution in the case, and we believe the only case in the country to have so much money returned directly to consumers.”

Hagens Berman litigated the case jointly with the United States Department of Justice and attorneys general from 33 U.S. states and territories.

The suit alleged that Apple illegally colluded with a group of five publishing companies to manipulate the e-book market by artificially raising the price of e-books, lowering competition, and charging consumers higher prices.

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