Virginians who bought e-books may receive refunds from lawsuit settlement

A model holds Amazon's Kindle Oasis, Thursday, April 28, 2016, in New York. The Oasis is meant to be a luxury e-book reader, and is the company's sleekest, lightest e-book reader yet. It's designed strictly for reading, without Facebook, streaming video and other distractions common on full-functioning tablets. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Virginians who bought electronic books (e-books) should begin getting money back after a settlement from a lawsuit against Apple, Inc.

As a part of a multi-state $400 million payment ordered after a 2013 finding that Apple and other publishers had engaged in price fixing, Virginia customers are expected to get about $11 million to $15 million in compensation, in addition to over $4 million that has already been paid to e-book buyers in the Commonwealth.

“Virginia consumers will finally be compensated for these anti-competitive, anti-consumer business practices,” said Attorney General Mark R. Herring.

Payments will begin on Tuesday, June 21.

Virginia, along with a group of 32 other states, investigated and prosecuted Apple for its part in a conspiracy to artificially inflate e-book prices.

In June 2013, the states, along with the U.S. Department of Justice, tried the case against Apple. A month later, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that Apple conspired with fiver major publishers — Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (now Penguin Random House); Holtzbrinck Publishers LLC d/b/a Macmillan; Hachette Book Group Inc.; HarperCollins Publishers LLC; and Simon & Schuster Inc. — to raise e-book retail prices.

In June 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the ruling. In March 2016, the Supreme Court denied Apple’s request to review the case. The Supreme Court’s decision triggered Apple’s obligation to pay the maximum consumer compensation amount of $400 million, under a contingent settlement agreement between the states and Apple.

“This has been a long process, but we will always fight for Virginia consumers and for a fair, level playing field of competition in the market,” Herring said.

Amounts e-book purchasers will get will be based on the number of e-books purchased between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012. For each e-book that was a New York Times bestseller, consumers will receive $6.93. For all other e-books, the payment will be $1.57.

All five of the conspiring publishers settled prior to trial and paid a total of about $166 million in nationwide consumer compensation. Most of that money was given to e-book purchasers in March 2014.

The distribution that will begin on Tuesday consists of the $400 million Apple payment and other funds remaining from the publisher settlements.

Customers who bought e-books through Sony or Google will receive checks through the mail. Those who bought e-books through Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble or Kobo will automatically receive credits in their accounts, unless they previously requested to get checks. Customers who receive account credits should expect to see an email between June 21 and June 24 to let them know their account has been credited. Since there is a large number of customers affected, it will take a few days for account credits to fully load. Some people will not see credits in their accounts until Friday, June 24. Credits can be used to purchase anything sold by these retailers, not just e-books.

If you have any questions about the settlement, visit or call 866-686-9333 for more information.

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