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Justice Dept. sues Apple, publishers over e-book prices | Washington Post

The antitrust suit names Apple, HarperCollins, Simon and Schuster, Hachette Book Group, Penguin Group and MacMillan. The Justice Department alleges that the chief executives of these firms worked together to control the price of e-books, overcharging consumers an average of $2 or $3 per book. Sharis Pozen, the agency’s acting antitrust chief, said that the alleged price-fixing cost consumers millions of dollars.

Three of the publishers— HarperCollins, Simon and Schuster and Hachette Book Group — have agreed to settle with the government, Holder said.

But Apple, Penguin and MacMillan appear poised to fight the charges in court. For Apple, the legal battle would be its most significant yet against the federal government. In the complaint, the agency uses a quote by Apple’s late co-founder and chief executive, Steve Jobs, to illustrate the impact of the pricing strategy: “The customer pays a little more, but that’s what [the publishers] want anyway.”

Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr declined to comment on the suit Wednesday. [++]