Skip to main content

And now it’s just Apple vs. D.O.J. over digital book price fixing

What's the Story ebook on iPad and iPhoneAnd then, there was one.

Holtzbrinck Publishers LLC, better known to readers in the United States as Macmillan, has become the fifth and final publisher to reach a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice over the collusion to artificially set pricing for e-books.

Macmillan had been the sole remaining publisher in the lawsuit the D.O.J. had brought against Apple and the five largest publishers in the U.S. – Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster had all agreed to settle in April of last year, and Penguin following suit in December. The publishers had been accused of conspiring with each other and Apple to set the price of e-books on Apple’s iBookstore at a higher level than’s $9.99 baseline, a move that was in violation of federal anti-trust laws.

As part of the settlement, which will have to be approved by the court and is open to a 60-day period of public comment beforehand, Macmillan will be required to immediately lift any restrictions it had previously placed on the discounting of digital releases by retailers. It will also be legally restricted from entering into any new agreement with similar restrictions until December 2014 at the earliest. In addition, the publisher will be required to ask permission of the D.O.J. to enter into collaborations with other e-book publishers, as well as provide the department with regular reports as to any discussions with any other publisher as matter of course.

The terms of the settlement go further than simply reporting on discussions, however. “As a result of today’s settlement, Macmillan has agreed to immediately allow retailers to lower the prices consumers pay for Macmillan’s e-books,” Jamillia Ferris, Chief of Staff and Counsel at the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, said in the official D.O.J. announcement, adding “Just as consumers are already paying lower prices for the e-book versions of many of Hachette’s, HarperCollins’ and Simon & Schuster’s new releases and best sellers, we expect the prices of many of Macmillan’s e-books will also decline.”

Previous publishers who have settled on this matter have also put money towards a fund from which customers who bought e-books at the artificially-set price could receive some form of financial renumeration. Whether or not Macmillan will be adding money towards this purpose is not broached in the D.O.J. announcement.

With Macmillan settling, only Apple remains as a defendant in the upcoming court case over this issue; the company’s trial is set to begin in June this year. The issue at hand is not whether the companies conspired to set prices, but whether the act of doing so was technically illegal. If Apple doesn’t settle ahead of time, expect arguments as to why colluding over prices isn’t actually illegal at all.

Image Credit: Flickr/shiftstigma

Graeme McMillan
Former Digital Trends Contributor
A transplant from the west coast of Scotland to the west coast of America, Graeme is a freelance writer with a taste for pop…
JPEG vs. PNG: When and why to use one format over the other
A person using Adobe Lightroom CC on an iMac.

In digital imaging, two image formats prevail above all else: JPEG (or JPG) and PNG.

At first glance, a single image shown in both formats might seem identical, but if you look closely enough and dig into the data, there is quite a difference between them. One format isn't always better than the other, as each is designed to be used in specific circumstances based on your needs for image quality, file size, and more. Here's what you need to know about both formats to make the most of their strengths and weaknesses.
What is the JPEG format?
Short for Joint Photographic Experts Group -- the team that developed the format -- JPEG has become the standard compressed format in digital photography and online image sharing due to its careful balance of file size and image quality.

Read more
Is there a Walmart Plus free trial? Get a month of free delivery
Walmart logo.

Take a moment and think about how often you shop at your local Walmart. Is it weekly? Daily? If either of those is the case, it might be time to upgrade your shopping experience. The Walmart Plus free trial is your chance to check out what the retail giant has to offer. Walmart Plus is basically Amazon Prime for Walmart. You get free shipping on most orders, early access to deals and new product drops (like PS5 restocks), the best grocery delivery, and more. If Walmart is your go-to option for the best smart home devices or the best tech products in general, you should get a membership. If you want to test out the service, you can sign up for a free trial. We have all the information you need right here.
Is there a Walmart Plus free trial?
There is a Walmart Plus free trial available, and it’s one of the best free trials we’ve seen in terms of how many great features and conveniences you’re able to access. This is really a reflection of how great the Walmart Plus service is, as the Walmart Plus free trial is essentially a 30-day experience of what it would be like to be a paid Walmart Plus subscriber. A Walmart Plus membership can help you save over $1,300 per year, so taking advantage of the 30-day free trial is a great way to get in there and see what those savings will look like. And if grocery delivery is what you're really after, an alternative you might consider is the Instacart free trial -- they have more than one program to try!

As part of a Walmart Plus free trial, you’ll get free shipping with no minimum order, so even small orders will qualify for free shipping. You’ll get fresh groceries and more with no delivery fees, and all at the same low in-store prices Walmart shoppers are used to. Walmart Plus members, and Walmart Plus free trial members, get exclusive access to special promotions and events, as well as a savings of up to 10 cents per gallon on fuel. A new addition to the perks of being a Walmart Plus member is free access to Paramount Plus, a top-notch streaming service with more than 40,000 TV episodes and movies. All of this is accessible for 30 days through a Walmart Plus free trial, and once those 30 days are up, Walmart Plus is just $12.95 per month or $98 annually.

Read more
The 13 best early Black Friday deals you can shop this weekend
Digital Trends Best Black Friday Deals

Even though Black Friday is still a couple of weeks away, we're already starting to see a lot of great deals on several different types of products. So, if you can't wait for the upcoming Black Friday and need to grab a few things now, we've collected some of our favorite deals across products and budget ranges to make your life a little bit easier. Below, you'll find deals on cordless vacuums, laptops, TVs, headphones, and phones, so it's a great collection of stuff that we think you'll find useful and want to grab. That said, if you can't find what you want, be sure to check our main Black Friday deals page for even more great offers.
Wyze Cordless Stick Vacuum -- $98, was $150

While budget cordless vacuum cleaners can sometimes not be that great, we found the Wyze Cordless Stick Vacuum to be surprisingly good for its price point. At just 2.8 pounds of weight, it's light enough that you won't feel like you're doing a workout every time you use it, and it is great for those who might have issues with arm weakness. Just because it's light doesn't mean it's not powerful, though, with two motors providing 24,000 pascals of suction, which is quite a lot at this price. It also has a HEPA filter to keep the air you breathe clean while vacuuming, which is impressive, but sadly, it does have a big downside in that it only lasts for about 50 minutes of vacuuming. That's not necessarily a dealbreaker, and you can buy a backup battery, but it's an important thing to note.

Read more