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Multistate e-book pricing lawsuit seeks refunds for buyers

Along with the Justice Department suit accusing Apple and e-book publishers of price fixing, a separate suit seeks restitution for those who bought e-books during that period.

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Alongside a federal lawsuit aimed at Apple and book publishers for allegedly colluding to fix e-book prices, 16 state attorneys general in the U.S. today filed a lawsuit against three publishers and Apple.

The complaint, which was filed in the District Court for the Western District of Texas, takes aim at the Penguin Group, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Apple, and claims that the four companies worked together to raise prices on e-books, resulting in e-book buyers overpaying by some $100 million. (Disclosure: Simon & Schuster is owned by CBS, which also owns CNET.)

Unlike the federal suit on the matter, the state-led suit is not just looking to end the practice, but also wants some payback for consumers who purchased books during this time.

During a press conference earlier today, Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said such a payback to buyers would take the form of either a credit toward a future e-book purchase, or a check. Publishers Hachette and Harper Collins, which were not listed as plaintiffs in the case, have already agreed to such a deal, Jepsen said.

How much that amount will end up bringing to book buyers in the form of restitution remains unclear. Earlier today acting Assistant Attorney General Sharis Pozen said that the investigation found buyers to be spending about $2 to $3 more per title as part of the alleged price-fixing scheme, with some books shooting up nearly $5 in price.

A full copy of the suit is embedded below, and includes the claims from Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and West Virginia.

Multistate eBook Complaint