April 11th, 2012 10:46 PM
WASHINGTON—The US Justice Department is filing an antitrust suit against Apple and publishers over e-book pricing, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
The Justice Department scheduled an announcement for noon (1600 GMT) on a “significant antitrust matter,” according to a statement, which had no details.
Prior to the introduction of Apple’s iPad in April 2010, online retail giant Amazon, maker of the Kindle e-book reader, sold electronic versions of many new best sellers for $9.99.
But Apple forced a change in pricing for e-books when the iPad emerged as a rival e-book reading platform, moving publishers to a so-called “agency model” which calls for them to set book prices and for Apple to take a 30 percent cut.
European antitrust officials announced in December they were conducting a probe into Apple and the five publishers to determine whether they had struck illegal deals to fix the prices of e-books in Europe.
But Apple has received support from the Authors Guild, which contends that Apple helped boost competition against Amazon, which had dominated the market previously.