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Apple blocks German iBookstore buys with discount cards

updated 12:09 pm EDT, Mon August 20, 2012

Pressure from German bookseller association blamed

Apple is now preventing shoppers at the German iBookstore from using discount iTunes cards to buy books, according to a local report. The ban is said to be a result of pressure from a German bookseller's association, which sent a cease-and-desist letter to Apple last week. German law mandates that a book be offered at the same price throughout the country, something an iTunes discount in theory circumvents, if likely unintentionally. A national supermarket chain, REWE, is informing customers that iTunes cards can't be used to shop at the iBookstore.

Discount iTunes cards have become increasingly popular with retailers; Walmart, for instance, is currently selling a $100 iTunes card for just $80. Even though it costs them financially the tactic can be a useful way of drawing in more shoppers, since Apple never runs storewide sales of its own, instead leaving it up to developers and publishers to periodically drop prices. The company is meanwhile coping with a Department of Justice case regarding price fixing at the iBookstore; three publishers have agreed to settle already, but Apple, Macmillan and Penguin are all still involved.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Zanziboy

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 08-27-08

    Considering what's taking place in the United States, I find this quite ironic!

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    It's not at all the same thing.

    German law protects publishers by allowing individual publishers to set one price for a printed work, and not allowing anybody to sell it at a loss, thereby ruining prices and driving publishers out of business. It's one of the mechanisms designed after the war to guarantee a free press as one of the fundamental pillars of democracy.
    Any publisher is free to sell his books at extremely low prices, though. It just that the individual publisher gets to make that decision, and not the store.

    The accusations of price fixing in the US concern different publishers agreeing on a general minimum price for their media. If this is found to be the case, this is effectively a cartel and a violation of anti-trust laws.

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