Macmillan Settles with DoJ

Macmillan has decided not to go to trial with the Department of Justice over antitrust allegations regarding e-book pricing. All the other publishers involved in the lawsuit have already settled. Only Apple is still contesting the charges.

CEO John Sargent announced that Macmillan is settling its case because the penalties, should they lose the case, would be too high. Sargent explains:

I had an old fashioned belief that you should not settle if you have done no wrong. As it turns out, that is indeed old fashioned… Our company is not large enough to risk a worst case judgment. In this action the government accused five publishers and Apple of conspiring to raise prices.  As each publisher settled, the remaining defendants became responsible not only for their own treble damages, but also possibly for the treble damages of the settling publishers (minus what they settled for).  A few weeks ago I got an estimate of the maximum possible damage figure. I cannot share the breathtaking amount with you, but it was much more than the entire equity of our company.

This means that e-books from Macmillan can now be offered at discounted prices by retailers, under certain conditions. Sargent says “this change will take effect quickly.”

For more details, see John Sargent’s letter, posted at