EU investigation: publishers 'concede e-book discounts'

EU investigation: publishers 'concede e-book discounts'

Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette Livre and Macmillan owner Verlugsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck have offered to allow retailers including Amazon to sell their e-books at a discount for two years in a bid to end an EU antitrust investigation and stave off fines, according to a Reuters report.

Apple, with which the publishers have entered into agency pricing agreements, is also said to have agreed on the concessions. Penguin, a fifth publisher which employs agency pricing on e-books, is not identified as having offered the concession.

The news agency claimed the European Commission is now "sounding out opinions from the industry as to whether the concessions are sufficient."

A spokesperson for the EC said the Commission could not comment on an ongoing investigation. A spokesperson for HarperCollins UK said: "We are of course cooperating with the European Commission and are working towards resolving its investigation". A spokesperson for Simon & Schuster said: "We are pleased with the progress of our discussions with EU."

Hachette Livre declined to comment and Holtzbrinck, Apple and Amazon did not respond to requests for comment.

The Bookseller reported in July that five of the six parties involved in the EC e-book probe were thought to be close to reaching a deal to conclude the issue.

Earlier this week in the US, Simon and Schuster, HarperCollins and Hachette agreed to pay more than $69m (£43.5m) in compensation to consumers to settle antitrust claims on price-fixing made by US states.