Apple this week denied any wrongdoing regarding the pricing structure for books sold via iBooks, arguing that its entry into the market helped collapse Amazon's monopolistic hold on the industry.
"The DOJ's accusation of collusion against Apple is simply not true," Apple said in a statement.
On Wednesday, the Department of Justice announced that it had filed suit against Apple and five other publishers over an alleged "illegal conspiracy" involving e-book price fixing. Apple, as well as publishers Macmillan and Penguin, plan to fight the charges, while Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster have agreed to a proposed settlement.
Beginning in 2009, publishing executives met with Apple during near-quarterly meetings to discuss competition issues, including Amazon's e-book pricing, "as part of a conspiracy to raise, fix, and stabilize retail prices," according to Attorney General Eric Holder.
Apple had a different take.
"The launch of the iBookstore in 2010 fostered innovation and competition, breaking Amazon's monopolistic grip on the publishing industry," the company said in its statement, which was first provided to All Things D and confirmed by an Apple spokesman. "Since then customers have benefited from eBooks that are more interactive and engaging. Just as we've allowed developers to set prices on the App Store, publishers set porices on the iBookstore."
The DOJ, however, alleges that Apple and publishers crafted a deal whereby no other e-book retailer could offer a price lower than Apple. Sharis A. Pozen, acting assistant attorney general within the DOJ's antitrust division, said that publishers reportedly referred to the "wretched" $9.99 pricing scheme for e-books via Amazon, and wanted to force Amazon to up its prices. Pozen quoted former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who reportedly said of the deal: "The customer pays a little more, but that's what [publishers] want anyway."
Australia is also reportedly considering an investigation into the Apple e-book price-fixing issue.