“Talks to resolve U.S. and European price-fixing probes into e-books are heating up, with three international publishers [CBS Corp.’s Simon & Schuster Inc., HarperCollins Publishers Inc. and Lagardère SCA’s Hachette Book Group] inclined to settle the matter, according to people familiar with the matter,” Thomas Catan and Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg report for The Wall Street Journal. “Apple Inc., another target of the investigation, and two publishers [Pearson PLC’s Penguin Group (USA) and Macmillan] appear reluctant to settle on the terms sought by antitrust authorities in both the U.S. and Europe, those people said.”

“The situation remains fluid and those positions could change as the Justice Department edges closer to filing an antitrust suit,” Catan and Trachtenberg report. “While the settlement terms haven’t been finalized, early indications suggest they could have broad repercussions for the fast-growing e-book market. A settlement would likely involve tearing up contracts the publishers signed with Apple when it first introduced the iPad tablet computer in 2010, according to the people familiar with the matter.”

Catan and Trachtenberg report, “If the current pricing arrangements are voided, publishers fear that Amazon will resume selling some electronic books below cost, putting more pressure on rival Barnes & Noble. Apple might also be forced, for competitive reasons, to match Amazon’s price, which in some cases involves losing money on the sale of each book, or it could exit the market… Publishers have said privately that the shift to agency pricing has allowed more booksellers to thrive. Barnes & Noble and Apple have since taken market share from Amazon, though exact figures are uncertain.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related articles:
Apple & the book cabal: Is there a settlement in sight? – March 12, 2012
U.S. DOJ warns Apple, publishers; threatens to sue, alleging collusion over e-book pricing – March 8, 2012
Class-action lawsuit alleges Apple, publishers engaged in ‘price-fixing conspiracy’ to punish Amazon – January 21, 2012
U.S. Justice Department confirms antitrust probe of Apple iBookstore, publishers, e-book industry – December 7, 2011
EU investigates Apple over ‘anti-competitive’ practices in e-book market – December 6, 2011