In separate filings late last week, lawyers for the Big Five publishers and Amazon asked a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit accusing them of a joint conspiracy to fix e-book prices.

Hagens Berman, a Seattle-based law firm that specializes in consumer class action cases, filed the suit in January 2021. In 2011, Hagen Berman successfully sued Apple and five major publishers for colluding to fix e-book prices.

“Lawyers for Amazon and the Big Five publishers basically argued the same thing: that there is no evidence of any coordination or agreement among them to fix e-book prices or otherwise restrain competition,” reports Andrew AlbanesePublishers Weekly senior writer.

“More importantly, they argue that the alleged conspiracy—in which the five largest American trade publishers are alleged to have banded together to give Amazon monopoly pricing power over e-books—fundamentally makes no sense.”

In their brief, Albanese explains, the publishers assert that the alleged conspiracy does exactly what the publishers have long resisted, which is to ‘immunize’ Amazon from competition and solidify Amazon’s market position.

“The publishers acknowledge that they all have similar contracts with Amazon,” he tells me. “But that’s because they all faced the same market conditions.”

Author: Christopher Kenneally

Christopher Kenneally hosts CCC's Velocity of Content podcast series, which debuted in 2006 and is the longest continuously running podcast covering the publishing industry. As CCC's Senior Director, Marketing, he is responsible for organizing and hosting programs that address the business needs of all stakeholders in publishing and research. His reporting has appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, The Independent (London), WBUR-FM, NPR, and WGBH-TV.
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