In order to end an antitrust investigation by the European Commission, Pearson-owned book publisher Penguin has offered to drop e-book deals with Apple that inflated prices for Amazon and other vendors, Reuters
reports. Penguin is the fifth publisher to settle, joining Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette, and Macmillian, which along with Apple reached a settlement with the Commission in December.
Penguin has specifically agreed to end "most-favored nation" contracts for at least five years, and for two years it will have to let retailers set their own prices and discounts. The terms are similar to what the other publishers agreed to in December. The most-favored nation contracts may have been the most controversial, since they mandated that book prices could be no lower than at Apple's iBookstore. If the European Commission agrees to Penguin's concessions, which is likely, it will mark an end to the European antitrust case.
A similar case in the US has yet to be completely resolved
. In both instances, publishers have been accused of colluding with Apple with the aim of undermining Amazon. Amazon remains the dominant player in the e-book market, and prior to the debut of iBooks often sold digital titles below hardcover prices.