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Penguin offers settlement in European Commission investigation into e-book price-fixing


The European Commission has been investigating Apple and major book publishers over e-book price-fixing since late 2011. Today the EC published a notice on its website inviting comments on Penguin's proposal to end its existing pricing agreements with Apple and refrain from entering into similar agreements for five years.

Last September, a proposal was put forward by Apple, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, Macmillan and HarperColllins to let retailers set the price of e-books at any price for the next two years, as long as the discounts don't exceed the sales commissions the retailer gets from the publisher. It appears that Penguin, the sole holdout, is offering a similar proposal in order to settle.

The European Commission has yet to accept the offer made by Apple and the publishers, but if it does, the investigation by the EC into the price-fixing agreements in Europe would be closed. The company is still being investigated in a similar e-book pricing case in the US, the lone holdout after Macmillan settled with the US Department of Justice in February -- the last publisher to do so.

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