MONTPELIER - Vermonters will receive as much as $178,000 as part of a $69 million antitrust settlement Vermont and other states reached with three of the country’s largest book publishers.
Hachette Book Group Inc., HarperCollins Publishers and Simon & Schuster agreed to resolve antitrust claims that the companies conspired to fix the price of electronic books, according to the Vermont Attorney General’s Office.
Vermont and the other states allege that the three publishers, together with others, unlawfully agreed to raise retail prices and eliminate retail price competition so that all e-book prices would be the same.
As a result, consumers paid millions of dollars more for e-books than they should have.
The publishers agreed to pay $69 million to consumers across the country. The states will continue to pursue Apple and the two nonsettling publishers, Penguin Group Inc. and Macmillan.
“This case sends a strong message that price-fixing will not be tolerated,” Vermont Attorney General Sorrell said.
Under the proposed settlement, which requires court approval, the three publishers will compensate consumers who purchased e-books from any of the five publishers from April 1, 2010 through May 21, 2012.
The publishers also agreed to terminate agreements that prevented certain retailers, such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble, from reducing e-book prices.