It's a little strange when seeing the tables turned, however, this time around, Apple is the one being sued and, by the US no less; as it and five of the country's biggest book publishers are being accused of eBook price fixing, leading to the launch of an Antitrust lawsuit.
Aside from Apple; HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin, Hachette SA and Simon & Schuster have all been implicated as active participants in price fixing, with the latter two firms reported to have already settled their suits with the New York district court yesterday.
The issue stems from publisher wishes to continue supporting the Agency pricing model, which sees publishers reserve the right to set eBook prices and not the retailer themselves, typically preventing competition between retail firms and in some cases, making it difficult for those firms to differentiate eBook prices against paperback, passing on savings and promoting the new electronic medium.
Both Apple, Penguin and Macmillan disagree, however, believing that the Agency pricing model allows publishers to avoid sales losses by preventing excessive eBook discounting from reducing sales margins below the established level for existing paperbacks. However, where the balance should be and where it's currently at in regards to eBook vs paperback sales-margins is a matter up for debate, with publishers accused, in some instances, of simply benefiting from improved eBook margins through reduced production overheads, as opposed to passing costs on to the consumer and/or retailer.
If publishers continue to fight against the Antitrust lawsuit, hopefully we may get a chance to peruse through some traditionally mist shrouded sales and costing figures, usually kept close to the hearts of publishing firms.