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Bought Agency Priced E-Books? $69 Million Settlement Pay-Out Is on the Way!

If you’re a US resident who bought any agency-priced e-books from one of the major e-book sellers and don’t live in Minnesota, rejoice! A $69 million settlement between 49 states (plus five territories) and three of the five agency publishers means you stand to receive at least 25 cents per e-book you bought. Woo-hoo, you’re in the money! (Minnesota opted out of the settlement.) Assuming the court approves, the publishers will pay out the money into a fund and e-book stores will start notifying their customers within 30 days.

The payout per agency-priced e-book bought will be valued at $1.32 if the book was a New York Times Bestseller at the time they bought it, 32 cents if had been a NYT Bestseller during the first year of its publication, and 25 cents for non-NYT Bestseller backlist titles. If you bought the books from Amazon, B&N, Kobo, or Apple, you’ll get an account credit unless you state you’d prefer a check; if you bought them from Google or Sony you’ll just get a check. And about $10 million of the settlement will be set aside for administrative costs. Any money remaining after everyone’s been compensated will go to literacy charities.

Of course, anyone who did buy an agency-priced book probably spent a lot more than 25 cents or even $1.32 more than they would have on it if it weren’t agency priced. And while there are still two non-settling publishers plus Apple to shake down for pennies, it’s doubtful that even if they doubled the payout it would still bring those prices down to pre-agency levels.

The bright side is that it will be a lot easier to find and compensate the people who qualify for the payouts, given that all the stores have computerized records of who bought what e-book. But in the end, all this really means is that you’ll get some store credit that might entice you to buy another book, and give the publishers more money. google-checkReally, class-action suits are generally worthless for anything except enriching lawyers. (For example, I got a 55-cent check a few weeks ago for something to do with Google AdWords ten years ago. 55 cents! Was it even worth the cost of sending that check out?)

So what do you plan to do with your 25 cents per e-book?

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Logan Kennelly August 30, 2012 um 8:37 pm

I wouldn’t call them worthless. They don’t provide big payouts for the wronged, but I think they are fairly successful at assigning punitive damages.

DavidW August 30, 2012 um 8:54 pm

This is great news and you’re complaining, give me a break! The publishers that caved immediately deserve to not be hit as hard. Make the damages worse for Macmillan and Penguin, but this is fine, more than fine.

Eric Welch August 30, 2012 um 9:11 pm

Generally, you’re right about class action suits since historically the lion’s share of the money goes to pay legal fees, usually around 25-30%, etc. and the amount winding up in an individual’s pocket is minute. You can bet someone will be getting administrative costs, too. That’s why the judge recently rejected the Facebook settlement, 50% went to lawyers and 50% to "advocacy groups", i.e. those who pushed for the suits in the first place. That’s always been the big problem with the Author’s Guild suit with Google. The Guild and their lawyers make out big time but there is nothing for the authors. They should have been bargaining for royalties for individual authors rather than a big cash settlement. But then the lawyers would have gotten almost nothing.

Stumbling Over Chaos :: Linkity and earworms for everyone! August 31, 2012 um 3:03 am

[…] The ebook agency pricing settlement is here! Unless you live in Minnesota. We opted out. But that’s ok – I haven’t ever purchased such books. […]

George August 31, 2012 um 9:59 am

Rats. And I was hoping it’d be $69 million per screwed customer. My wife and I would’ve made out like bandits. 🙂

Anyway, I’ll probably use my .25 cents per eBook to buy more eBooks.

Luqman August 31, 2012 um 11:26 am

How is 25% to 30% the lion’s share of anything?

Common Sense August 31, 2012 um 10:47 pm

It doesn’t affect me, I never bought a full-priced Big 6 book again after they implemented the agency model. I discovered the wonderful world of indie, sale, free, and backlist books. I also check ebooks out from our library, it has a good collection and the waits aren’t too long.

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