Yesterday was big news in the e-book world. The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) filed a lawsuit against Apple and two book publishing giants, Macmillan and Penguin, for breaking antitrust regulations. Today, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) may be on the same path.
According to the Australian Financial Review, the ACCC has been asking retailers to speak out if they feel that there may be a price-fixing conspiracy taking place in the electronic book industry.
The ACCC said it was unable to comment on any investigation but is “aware of the latest developments in the U.S. concerning e-book publishing and pricing.”
There is no official word as to whether the ACCC will file its own lawsuit, but the government agency has previously advocated fair competition among online retailers as a priority. “Competition concerns may arise where traders seek to restrict the discounting of products by way of restrictive arrangements with suppliers. Retailers with concerns should raise them with the ACCC,” a spokesman for the ACCC told the Australian Financial Review.
Apple, MacMillan and Penguin face reparation fines to consumers if the lawsuit sticks. The price of electronic books may drop drastically because of the U.S. DoJ’s actions, which is great for consumers, but it may be the last nail in the coffin of physical book publishing if companies can’t compete with e-books. That will be a sad, sad day indeed.