In an effort to end the year and a half long EU antitrust investigation involving Apple and a number of large publishers, Pearson’s Penguin unit has offered to the European Commission to end its e-book deal with Apple that placed price restrictions on Amazon and other retailers.
If the European Commission accepts the offer it would make Penguin the fifth and final book publisher to settle with regulators, effectively ending the 16-month long investigation without fining or finding any wrongdoing.
Regulators have been worried that pricing deals like this would prevent growth of the e-book market, with higher prices for consumers. Right now Amazon has the biggest share of that market.
In December, settlements were reached with the Commission between Apple and publishers Simon & Scuster, News Corp unit HarperCollins, Lagardere SCA’s Hachette Livre and Verlagsgruppe Georg con Holtzbrinck, the owner of Germany’s Macmillan.
Penguin’s offer includes ending the “most-favored nation,” which kept rival booksellers from selling e-books at a lower price point than Apple, for five years. The agreement would also allow retailers to set prices and discounts for two years, which is the same agreement that other publishers have settled with the Commission.
Interested parties have one month to comment on Penguin’s proposal before the Commission comes to a decision.
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