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Amazon Kindle owners could be entitled to refunds on ebooks

Refunds could be on the way, as three publishers have decided to settle a price-fixing court case.

Do you own an Amazon Kindle? If so, you could be entitled to a refund on ebooks you've bought, Amazon told customers in an email on Saturday. And we could see the price of electronic tomes drop, if a judge approves legal settlements with publishers accused of price fixing, Reuters reports.

With refunds on the way, why not shell out for a brand new Kindle Paperwhite when it launches at the end of the month?

The refunds could range from 30 cents (19p) to $1.32 (82p) per ebook bought between April 2010 and May 2012. The ebooks have to be published by one of three publishers who have agreed to settle a lawsuit in which they were accused of hiking up prices. It's not clear whether the ruling applies only to ebooks bought from Amazon's US store.

A court hearing is scheduled for February. If it's approved -- and it seems likely considering the publishers have agreed to settle rather than fight any alleged wrongdoing -- it could usher in a new era of cheaper ebooks.

"We think these settlements are a big win for customers and look forward to lowering prices on more Kindle books in the future," Amazon said in the email.

The high price of ebooks has put some people off, especially considering there are no printing costs involved.

In April, the US Justice Department accused five publishers and Apple of illegally colluding on prices to stop Amazon being so dominant in the ebook arena. Three of the publishers decided to settle. These are HarperCollins, Hachette and Simon & Schuster, which is owned by CNET's parent company CBS.

They denied any wrongdoing, but wanted to avoid the cost of a trial.

If the refunds do go out, you'll be able to use them as credit to buy more ebooks or those of the paper variety, or you can ask for a cheque for the amount owed. Ker-ching.

Do you think ebooks are too expensive? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook page.