States’ ebook settlement: Preliminary approval, and a 2013 hearing

Federal district judge Denise Cote has preliminarily approved (PDF) the states’ $69 million ebook pricing settlement with Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster.

The settlement covers all the states except Minnesota, and five territories including Washington, D.C.

Consumers will be notified within 30 days if they are eligible for a small payment, but they won’t receive the actual payments until next year. That’s because Judge Cote also approved a “fairness hearing,” to be held on February 8, 2013 in New York. (I’ll attend this hearing.) The hearing will “consider the fairness, reasonableness and adequacy of the Settlements, the dismissal with prejudice of this action to the Defendants, and the entry of final judgment in this action.”

Consumers who oppose the settlement can speak at the hearing if they file a notice with the court by December 19, 2012.

As we reported earlier, consumers who bought qualifying ebooks from Amazon (s AMZN), Barnes & Noble (s BKS), Kobo or Apple (s AAPL) between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012 will receive an automatic account credit if the settlement is approved. Those who bought ebooks fron Sony (s SNE) will receive a check. And those who bought ebooks from any other retailer — like Google (s GOOG) — must file a claim form. Payments per book range from $0.25 to $1.32 depending on the book’s date of publication and whether it was a New York Times (s NYT) bestseller.

Consumers could get a top-up if the states reach a similar settlement with Penguin and Macmillan, who are fighting the price-fixing allegations case in court, along with Apple. The trial is set to begin in June 2013.

The filing, which includes a copy of the notice that consumers will receive, is below. More information will be available at, but the site isn’t up and running yet.

State eBook Settlement Approval