Amazon Kindle Readers: You may have some money coming to you!

By Annie Mole, Flickr Commons

This Saturday many Amazon Kindle readers woke up to a surprising email in their inboxes.  The email opened with “We have good news…”

Good news indeed, if you’re a Kindle addict, like me.

I have become completely dependent on my Kindle.  I subscribe to several periodicals, as well as buy at least two ebooks per month.  I always carry it with me and even read while jogging on the treadmill at the gym (font size: HUGE).  To my dismay, however, Kindle ebook prices have steadily climbed in the past few years.  Earlier this year I paid $18.99 ($18.99!) for Fall of Giants by Ken Follet.

In one of those “I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who thought this was outrageous!” moments, major publishers Hachette, Harper Collins, and Simon & Schuster (the publishers) have reached a settlement with the Attorneys General of most states, as well as some commonwealths and territories, in an antitrust suit about ebook prices.

Texas et al. v. Hachette Book Group et al., the anti-trust suit against the publishers, was filed by the Attorneys General of 49 states (the Attorney General of Minnesota chose not to participate WAH WAH) and five commonwealths and territories.  The suit alleged that the above publishers and others conspired to fix and raise the prices of retail ebooks.  Even though the publishers admit to no wrongdoing, they have agreed to settle the case out of court for $69 million “to avoid the cost and risk of a trail.”  There is a similar ongoing case against two other publishers and Apple Inc.

The settlement includes reimbursing customers who bought ebooks between April 2010 and May 2012.  If the Court approves the settlement, customers will receive a $1.32 credit for each title on the New York Times Bestseller List during that period, and $.30 for any other title not on the List.

The hearing for the settlement is set for February 8, 2013, so customers won’t be seeing a credit or check until Amazon and other vendors have been notified of the approval.

Amazon’s Saturday email directs their customers to an information page.  According to their page, once the settlement is approved, Amazon will automatically credit the customer’s account, if the customer does not act before that to receive a check instead.  The credit will be valid on the customer’s account for up to one year, and can only be used to purchase a Kindle or print book.

The settlement also sets limitations on publishers’ ability to set prices in the future, so this will probably- hopefully- mean lower prices on ebooks in the future.

There is a website where customers can get more information at:  On this site, customers can obtain information about ebooks purchased with other vendors, how to receive a check instead of a credit, and how to exclude themselves from participating.

I guess I’m pretty happy about this.  Not so much about the refund- because it won’t be much- but more about the future of ebook prices.  However, it remains to be seen when and whether ebook prices will actually be lower in the future.