The book business is about to get a summer boost. Attorneys today confirmed that $400 million in refunds due readers following the end of the Apple e-book price-fixing case will begin flowing into customer accounts on June 21—with refunds for New York Times bestsellers approaching $7 per title purchased.
Similar to the prior settlements with publishers, which were paid out in 2014, the bulk of the Apple credits will be automatically delivered directly into the accounts of consumers at major book retailers, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Apple. Consumers will receive a $6.93 credit for every purchased e-book that was a New York Times bestseller, and a $1.57 credit for other e-books. The credits can be used for "any product or service" offered by the retailer, unlike the publisher settlements, which restricted refund credits to book purchases only (print or digital). The settlement covers books that were purchased between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012.
The distribution of funds is the final chapter in the long-running Apple e-book price-fixing saga, and comes after the Supreme Court, on March 7, declined to hear Apple's final appeal in the closely-watched case. That Supreme Court denial finalized Judge Denise Cote's 2013 liability finding against Apple (as well as the affirmation by the Second Circuit court of appeals) and triggered the $400 million in refunds (as well as another $50 million in attorney fees and costs) as agreed to under a November, 2014, settlement between Apple and the state and consumer classes.
In all, the price-fixing suit will have refunded $566 million to e-book consumers, including $400 million from Apple and $166 million paid in 2014 from the five publishers accused of collusion (Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin, and Simon & Schuster).