Aug 1 – Aug 8, 2010 Edition Two Attorneys General Review Apple, Amazon Pricing

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal became the second Attorney General to look into pricing policies of and Apple, saying he is concerned the pacts may be anticompetitive. Earlier this year, the Texas Attorney General also began a similar review.

According to an article in The Wall Street Journal’s subscription-only site, the Connecticut Attorney General said an initial review by his office found that e-book prices offered by Amazon and Apple, as well as Borders Group Inc. and Barnes & Noble Inc., for several best-sellers were identical.

“These agreements among publishers, Amazon and Apple appear to have already resulted in uniform prices for many of the most popular e-books—potentially depriving consumers of competitive prices,” Mr. Blumenthal said.

Earlier this year, five of the nation’s largest publishers agreed to adopt the “agency” model for selling e-books. Under the model, the publisher received 70% of the digital price, while the sellers receive 30%.

Mr. Blumenthal, the Connecticut attorney general, said he believes the agency-model agreements appear to deter certain publishers from offering discounts to Amazon’s and Apple’s competitors.

Letters have been sent to Apple and Amazon by the attorney general’s office requesting a meeting to discuss its concerns. Similar letters may be sent to publishers later if an investigation develops.

Amazon and Apple didn’t immediately return The Journal’s phone calls seeking comment Monday.