Get ready for the ebook price wars. Apple and four of the top publishing houses have agreed to stop restricting prices following an EU probe
Digital retailers like Amazon will be free to set their own prices for eboks within the EU after Apple and four of the major publishers agreed to stop fixing prices.
The news comes following a European Commission investigating into whether Apple, Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, Hachette Livre and HarperCollins had engaged in a "concerted practice aimed at raising retail prices for ebooks in the European Economic Area."
The probe heard eveidence that the publishers, aided by Apple's clout in the digital world, had put pressure on Amazon and co. to agree to the so-called 'agency models' and keep prices higher for consumers.
The 'collusion' between the publishers is against EU anti-trust laws. "Our strong suspicion is that this was part of a global strategy to restrict competition at retail level and achieve higher prices," said Joaquin Almunia, vice president of the commission responsible for competition policy.
"Whatever the publishers' initial concerns about retail prices, dealing with this situation through collusion is not acceptable. Our preliminary conclusion was therefore that this behaviour could possibly constitute an infringement."
As part of the settlement, Apple and the publishers have agreed to tear up the agency model, meaning much cheaper ebooks will likely be available in the very near future.