Following a price-fixing conviction against Apple and major publishers, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case, which means the lower court’s antitrust ruling stands. As such, Apple will have to pay $450 million, and five major publishers will pay another $166 million. ($50 million of this is going to lawyers.) As this Bloomberg article points out:
Apple will have to pay out $400 million in refunds to e-book customers, which they can only use to buy new e-books. The total revenue to publishers for trade e-books in the United States for the first ten months of 2015 was just a bit more than $1.1 billion, so Apple’s settlement could be a significant shot in the arm for the languishing industry.
The author doesn’t include the $166 million that publishers are paying, and I’m not sure how this money will be distributed. But even if there’s $400 million that will be spent on ebooks – and, while many people may never spend what they get, others will spend more than what they get, because their share won’t be enough to buy a book – this amount will inject a huge sum of money into the publishing industry.
Unfortunately, it comes at a time when ebook prices have gotten ridiculous, as the Bloomberg article points out. New books are often in the $12 – $15 range, and older ebooks often cost more than paperbacks. The publishing industry is killing off ebooks, by pricing them out of the market, and it’s a shame.