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Apple, who has been accused of colluding in an attempt to sustain high prices for e-books, has refused to take a settlement deal offered by the US Department of Justice.Three other big Australian publishers, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, and Hachette, have taken the deal which will see device manufacturers such as Amazon offer refunds of between $0.30 and $1.32 per book for books purchased between April 2010 and May 2012.

The publishers have been involved in a lawsuit for trying to charge more for eBooks than printed books despite their being no distribution, transport or retailer costs when compared to printed books.

Owners of Kindle e-readers will receive refunds on past e-book purchases shortly.

The books must have been published by HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster or Hachette to qualify for a refund.

If the settlement is approved by the supervising judge, the agreement will limit the publishers’ ability to set e-book prices, which in theory will lead to lower costs for e-books. “We think these settlements are a big win for customers and look forward to lowering prices on more Kindle books in the future,” Amazon told customers in the emails.

The three publishers, plus Apple, had been accused of colluding in an attempt to sustain high prices for e-books, through contractual agreements that prohibited booksellers from offering discounts. The contracts were viewed as a way to compete against rival Amazon, which routinely sells select e-books at a loss as part of a broader strategy to promote the Kindle platform.

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