Officials across the nation are trumpeting a $69 million settlement in a nationwide price-fixing case against Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster.
But don't go rushing out to put a downpayment on a beach house.
Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler -- in announcing that state residents will receive up to $1.6 million -- noted that the reimbursement per book will range from 25 cents to $1.32.
That amount depends on "whether the books were on the New York Times bestseller lists (Fiction, Non-Fiction and Advice) at the time of purchase and, if not, whether the purchase was made more or less than one year after initial publication," according to Gansler.
He said in a prepared statement that most consumers are likely to receive the restitution "by check or by crediting the amount to future purchases of e-books. E-book retailers Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple and Kobo have agreed to identify and contact each eligible customer by email."
Maryland joined dozens of other states in alleging that the publishers conspired to fix the prices of ebooks. The proposed settlement, which affects consumers who purchased ebooks from the publishers from April 1-May 21, 2012, still requires judicial approval.
"Collusion by these publishers has cost consumers millions of dollars more for the most popular e-book titles," Gansler said in a prepared statement. "While consumers will be reimbursed, this settlement also promotes competition among e-book retailers from here on out."
Gansler said that under the proposed settlement, the three major publishers must allow all online retailers to competitively price ebooks. Judgments or settlements with other defendants in the case could bring more money to consumers, he said.
The settlement occurred in conjunction with a civil suit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against the three publishers, Gansler said. That lawsuit and another suit filed last May allege that the three settling publishers and others -- including Apple -- arranged to boost ebook prices and stifle competition.