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The State AGs’ settlement is given preliminary approval (with Update from...

UPDATED: On October 13, 2012, Amazon sent out emails informing customers of their potential recovery under the settlement over price fixing brought by the States Attorneys General.  The email informs consumers of their rights which is that they will be entitled to a refund of $0.25  – $1.32 per book and that they have the right to object to the settlement.

How much you will receive (so long as the settlement is approved) depends upon how many books you bought that qualify for a refund.  First, the books must have been published by one of the settling publishers between April 1, 2010, and May 21, 2012.  The refund per purchase depends upon what categorization it falls under (and that will be determined by the publishers and the retailers, not you).

This is exactly what is supposed to be done per the proposed settlement which I detailed a month ago.  There seemed to be a lot of confusion so I am reposting my breakdown of the settlement and what it means.

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On September 13, 2012, Judge Cote issued a preliminary approval of the states’ proposed settlements.  The proposed settlements involve every state and territory except for the state of Minnesota.  I don’t know why Minnesota is not a signatory to the settlement.  The total pool of the settlement is $69 million.  Order in PDF is here.

  • Hachette:  $31.71 million
  • HarperCollins: $19.58 million
  • Simon & Schuster: $17.75 million

A fairness hearing is scheduled for February 8, 2013.  The fairness hearing is to “consider the fairness, reasonableness and adequacy of the Settlements, the dismissal with prejudice of this action as to the Defendants, and the entry of final judgment.”  All proceedings are stayed until the resolution of the settlement agreements. The timeline is as follows:

  • Sept 13, 2012 – Preliminary Approval Order entered.  Plaintiff States must disseminate to eligible consumers detail of the Plan and how to participate or opt out.
  • Oct 13, 2012 – Notice period begins.  Consumers have 60 days in which to exercise their right to object to the proposed Settlements.
  • Dec 12, 2012 – Notice period ends.
  • Dec 12, 2012 – This is the deadline for a consumer to alert the court that she opposes the settlement.  The resistance to the settlement must be accompanied by a written statement that indicates the basis for the resistance to the settlement, the dismissal of the claims and/or entry of final judgment and any documentation in support of the opposition.  A copy of this resistance must be filed with the Court and served upon the Claims Administrator at E-books AG Settlements Objections, PO Box 2825, Faribault, MN 55021-8630.  (This can be anyone objecting to the settlement)

You are eligible if:

  • You bought an ebook from one of the settling publishers between April 1, 2010 through May 21, 2012;
  • You live in a US State, DC or the five US territories or commonwealths OTHER THAN Minnesota.

How will you receive your benefit?

  • If you purchased through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo or Apple, you will automatically receive a credit in your account.  (At least one document indicates that you will be given the option to receive your refund in the form of a check).  Consumers are identified by a unique settlement number provided by the crediting retailer and not by name to preserve customer privacy.
  • If you purchased through Sony, you will automatically receive a check.
  • If you purchased through Google, you will need to file a claim form and the settlement id number that will be emailed to you.
  • For any other retailer, you must fill out a form AND provide proof of purchase.
Apparently there are technological issues for Sony and Google providing credits at this point and they can become Crediting Retailers like the others if they can overcome the technological barriers by the deadline for notice to be given.

How much will I get?

  • (NYT Bestsellers)  For each Ebook that was on the NYT list (Fiction, Non-Fiction and Advice), the refund will be $1.32 per book.
  • (Frontlist) For each Ebook not on the NYT list, and was within one year of its initial publication, the refund is $0.36.
  • (Backlist) For each Ebook not on the NYT list, and was sold more than one year following the initial publication, the distribution shall be $0.25.
  • (Undetermined) If the Claims Administrator cannot determine whether the book is a frontlist or backlist title, then the distribution is $0.30.
Credits are good for one year.

Can I opt out?

Yes, each retailer should include how to opt out. You can opt out of settling with one publisher and not others.

  • Opt out of Hachette settlement, the distribution will be reduced by 46%.
  • Opt out of HarperCollins settlement, the distribution will be reduced by 28%.
  • Opt out of Simon & Schuster settlement, the distribution will be reduced by 26%.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

13 Comments

  1. Nadia Lee
    Sep 17, 2012 @ 05:00:07

    You bought an ebook from one of the settling publishers between April 1, 2010 through May 21, 2010;

    Really? That’s all for eligibility? That’s a very short time period.

  2. Lisa J
    Sep 17, 2012 @ 05:17:59

    As a resident of Minnesota, I would like to know why we are not included. It doesn’t make sense we would not be part of the settlement. Oh well, things are always a little off here.

  3. DS
    Sep 17, 2012 @ 06:35:22

    @Nadia Lee: Must have been an error. Now reads 5/21/2012. I don’t think I fall in this group any way.

    The amounts don’t surprise me. I was once part of a Visa class that received $3.85.

  4. Nadia Lee
    Sep 17, 2012 @ 07:38:35

    @DS: Thanks. So it was a typo.

    Yeah, me either. I’m surprised there’s any money left over for ebook buyers to claim.

  5. Brian
    Sep 17, 2012 @ 08:49:24

    @Lisa J:
    You can read a little (very little) about the thoughts of our state’s AG office here…
    http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2012/09/04/minn-only-state-not-involved-in-e-book-refund/

  6. Hell Cat
    Sep 17, 2012 @ 10:09:13

    So, I could or could not get a refund. Okay. Honestly, I have no idea and I’m not going through my Amazon and B&N purchases to figure it out. I’m too lazy. But if I get a credit, yay! I can buy more books. (Because I’m not falling behind with school or anything.)

    This case makes my head hurt worse than attempting algebra while hungover.

  7. Lisa J
    Sep 17, 2012 @ 10:45:25

    @Brian: Hi Brian – Thanks for the link. It doesn’t make me happy we aren’t part of the settlement because I can’t imagine filing my own lawsuit for what would most likely be a small dollar claim.

  8. library addict
    Sep 17, 2012 @ 16:22:41

    I looked rather easily by sorting by publisher in Calibre. I think I have 20 books. I then looked at my library shelves to determine where I had purchased them since I didn’t remember on most: Sony (9), Kobo (2), and AllRomance eBooks (9). Though I know two of the S&S books were on sale when I purchsed them (not sure if that makes them eligible or not).

    Is there a proper list of which imprints these publishers sell? I think I know most of the major ones, but I get confused.

    Now if Penguin were part of this, I would have tons more to research. And I have no clue which were on the NYT list when I bought them. I will worry about figuring out the form thing later. I hope my purchase email will be considered proof enough. What a headache.

  9. MikiS
    Sep 18, 2012 @ 02:47:59

    And Hatchett has already raised prices on its ebooks to make up the costs.

  10. Julaine
    Oct 14, 2012 @ 10:42:10

    I went back and looked at my history of digital purchases on Amazon and was amazed to discover that I had purchased over a 1000 books in the qualifying period. I have no idea how many fall under this agreement but it will be a fun statistical exercise of my reading choices when this is all over. As a reader I have been watching this debacle from the sidelines with a kind of stunned amazement. Any tenth grader with a passing grade in Civics class understands the basic principals of how our Antitrust Laws work. Why did the CEO’s or the lawyers of the major publishing companies fail to understand the deep hole they were falling into?

  11. emmad
    Oct 14, 2012 @ 15:33:10

    I’m wondering if anyone has thought about all the purchasers who don’t live in the US. Surely there would be something done about us at some stage? We still purchased the ebooks at inflated prices. Would be nice if something was done but imagine it’ll just get brushed aside.

  12. Nadia Lee
    Oct 14, 2012 @ 22:30:59

    @emmad: I think it depends on where you live. Some governments seemed to be talking w/ the colluding publishers & Apple to decide how to compensate their own citizens who have been affected by this.

  13. library addict
    Oct 16, 2012 @ 13:48:13

    I called the number listed on the Settlement Website today since the site lists Penguin and Macmillan. I was told to include books from them in the detailed claim form I am filing for retailers other than Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Google, Kobo or Sony (as an example I need to do one for All Romance eBooks and one for Penguin.com).

    Also I asked about Borders and was told the qualifying books I purchased from them that were transferred to Kobo will be included as part of the settlement if they are now in my Kobo library (which thankfully they are).

    Edited: Okay I am hopeless at fancy links. The website is https://ebooksagsettlements.com/

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