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Amazon offers refunds after e-book settlement

NEW YORK--Amazon has announced it will offer refunds to customers who bought e-books as a result of a partial settlement of a lawsuit against publishers in a price-fixing case.

The e-commerce giant said the precise amounts won't be known until a court finalizes the deal but that the refunds will probably range from 30 cents to US$1.32 for certain Kindle books purchased between April 2010 and May 2012.

In notifications to customers over the past few days, Amazon noted that publishers Hachette, Harper Collins, and Simon & Schuster have agreed to the deal in a U.S. government lawsuit alleging a price-fixing conspiracy with Apple.

The settlements create a US$69 million fund for refunds.

“We think these settlements are a big win for customers and look forward to lowering prices on more Kindle books in the future,” Amazon said in a message to its customers.

The three publishers reached a settlement in April when the U.S. government launched its case against Apple and other publishing houses “for conspiring to end e-book retailers' freedom to compete on price.”

The lawsuit will proceed against Apple along with publishers Macmillan and Penguin Group for what U.S. authorities called a conspiracy to raise prices and limit competition for e-books.

U.S. officials said the scheme was aimed at ending a discounting effort by Amazon, which sold most e-books at US$9.99 until the new pricing plan was forced on the retail giant.

The move almost instantly raised the prices consumers paid for e-books, authorities said.

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An Amazon Kindle, bottom, and a Kindle Fire are displayed in Montpelier, Vermont on Monday, Oct. 15. Kindle readers may soon get a refund. Amazon has alerted its Kindle customers ...

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