* E-book revenue $2 billion in 2011, print books $11 billion
* Publishers have denied wrongdoing, want to avoid trials
CHICAGO Oct 13 Owners of Amazon.com's
Kindle e-readers will receive refunds on past e-book purchases
and see e-book prices drop if a judge approves legal settlements
with publishers accused of fixing prices, according to the
Amazon told Kindle owners in emails on Saturday that they
could receive a refund of between 30 cents and $1.32 for e-books
they bought between April 2010 and May 2012. The books must have
been published by three publishers who have agreed to settle a
lawsuit that accused them of inflating e-book prices.
The settlements are subject to court approval, and a hearing
is scheduled for February.
If approved, the settlements would also limit the
publishers' ability to set future e-book prices, which should
lead to lower costs for Kindle users, according to Amazon.
"We think these settlements are a big win for customers and
look forward to lowering prices on more Kindle books in the
future," Amazon told customers in the emails.
Amazon did not immediately respond to questions on Saturday
about how many customers could be affected.
The settlements came about after the Justice Department in
April accused Apple Inc and five publishers of
illegally colluding on prices as part of an effort to fight
Amazon's dominance of e-books.
Three of the publishers - News Corp's HarperCollins
Publishers Inc, CBS Corp's Simon & Schuster Inc and
Lagardere SCA's Hachette Book Group - decided to
Amazon was not a party to this lawsuit.
The three publishers have denied they did anything wrong,
but agreed to settle the lawsuit to avoid the cost and risk of a
trial, according to the settlement website,
If the court approves the settlements, the publishers will
pay for e-book refunds that will be applied automatically to the
Amazon.com accounts of eligible customers. Customers can use the
refunds to purchase Kindle books or print books or request a
check for the amount of the refund.
Electronic books more than doubled in popularity in 2011,
with e-book sales making up 15 percent of the market last year,
up from 6 percent in 2010, according the Association of American
Publishers and the Book Industry Study Group.
While e-books increased in sales power, bringing in more
than $2 billion in 2011, the majority of publishers' revenue
still came from printed books, at $11.1 billion in 2011.