Competition Bureau Takes Action to Promote Competition for ebooks

Four major publishers agree to take steps that are expected to lower ebook prices in Canada

February 7, 2014 — OTTAWA, ON — Competition Bureau

The Competition Bureau has reached an agreement with four major ebook publishers that is expected to lower the price of ebooks in Canada.

Following an 18-month investigation into the ebook industry in Canada, the Bureau has signed a consent agreement with Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Macmillan and Simon & Schuster. Canadian consumers will benefit from the agreement registered with the Competition Tribunal today, in that the Bureau expects that competition among retailers will increase, resulting in lower prices for ebooks.

The four publishers have agreed to remove or amend clauses in their distribution agreements with individual ebook retailers that the Bureau believes have the effect of restricting retail price competition, which will allow retailers to offer discounts on ebooks.

The Bureau alleges that the publishers engaged in conduct that resulted in reduced competition for ebooks in Canada, contrary to the civil competitor collaboration provision in section 90.1 of the Competition Act.

The Bureau’s investigation into the ebook industry in Canada continues at this time.

Quick Facts

  • Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Macmillan and Simon & Schuster publish many of the bestselling ebooks in Canada.
  • Similar settlements reached in the United States in 2012 and 2013 resulted in lower prices for ebooks in the US. The Bureau's monitoring of the effects of the US settlement shows that discounts of 20 per cent, and sometimes higher, can now be found on certain bestselling ebooks.

Quotes

"This agreement should benefit Canadian consumers by lowering the price of ebooks in Canada. Businesses operating in the digital economy must realize that anti‑competitive activity will not be tolerated, whether it occurs in the physical world or the digital one."

John Pecman,
Commissioner of Competition

Related Information

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