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Does Agency Pricing Mean Higher E-Book Prices? That Depends

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The term “agency pricing” may not be familiar to those outside the book industry, but it has become a serious issue with the Justice Department’s antitrust case against Apple and five major book publishers for colluding on prices as a defensive move against Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN). One of the key factors in that case will likely be whether consumers have been harmed by this model – for example, whether they are paying higher prices for e-books as a result, a topic that my PaidContent colleague Laura Owen and I debated recently. On Friday, independent distributor Smashwords revealed some internal numbers that show e-book prices have actually gone down as a result of the agency model. So does that mean the federal case is irrelevant?