Amazon and Apple in e-book price-fix probe
Amazon and Apple are being investigated for allegedly seeking to fix the price of e-books by signing contracts with six of the world's biggest publishers that banned them from selling the digital books to rivals for lower prices.
According to authorities in the United States, such contracts could "threaten to encourage co-ordinated pricing and discourage discounting".
Richard Blumenthal, the Attorney General of Connecticut, has written to both companies demanding a meeting to discuss the allegations.
He claims that a review conducted by his office found that digital book prices for best-sellers offered by four of America's biggest bookstores were identical.
"These agreements among publishers Amazon and Apple appear to have already resulted in uniform prices for many of the most popular e-books -- potentially depriving consumers of competitive prices," Mr Blumenthal said.
"The e-book market is set to explode -- with analysts predicting that e-book readers will be among the holiday season's biggest electronic gifts -- warranting prompt review of the potential anti-consumer impacts."
In America, the popularity of digital books has boomed over the past year. Last month Amazon announced that it was selling more e-books than hardback books for the first time.
Amazon is planning to launch its Kindle reading device here later this month, along with an e-book store selling tens of thousands of titles. The company claims this will prove "the tipping point" for the success of digital books in Ireland.
E-books typically sell for $9.99 (€7.50) in the US, but it is not clear what Amazon will charge here. The reading devices are more expensive in Europe. (© Daily Telegraph, London)