Like many other buyers of ebooks, I got an unexpected financial windfall from Amazon today. It is my share of a settlement for a collusion scheme between ebook sellers and book publishers that increased ebook prices.
Apparently this collusion bumped up the price of ebooks by several bucks a copy. To compensate me for my loss, I now have a 38-cent credit to spend on anything my heart desires that is sold on the Amazon website.
Seems a little disproportionate, doesn’t it?
I wrote about this matter in 2014, after it was revealed that Apple had initiated the overcharging, had capitulated and agreed to pay a $400 million fine. After that Apple changed its mind. It took its case to a federal court in Manhattan, which upheld the fine. Then, last year, Apple tried to get the US Supreme Court to hear an appeal; the court said no. In addition, the colluding publishers already had agreed to pay more than $150 million in fines.
Honestly, I don’t see how years of court wrangling involving many states could have cost much less than $600 million in legal fees alone. (Yes, I know, the wonderful state attorneys are on salary and so maybe the biggest chunk of money went into states’ coffers, but still. I’d be willing to give up my 38 cents for more state-based white-collar crime prosecutions.)
Over at the Ars Technica technology site, the payout also was received with skepticism.
Here are some reactions from AT’s readers:
–I got my few pennies. I’m sure this really taught the industry a lesson in collusion.
–Just 38¢ for me. Can I even buy anything on Amazon for that?
–I got $.38. Not really sure what to do with all of the money I received.
–I got $3.84. My pockets are simply stuffed full of pennies.
–I got $7.82. I splurged on a new pack of disposable reading glasses and a 2lb bag of loose tea.
–I’m gonna have a rocking fun weekend!
–I’ll be living it up with $14.84 of scammed-from-Apple money. Woohoo?
–I think you mean returned scammed-from-you money.
–Aww yeah! $0.76!
–Another $0.38er here. Happy the non-injury I suffered has been fully compensated.