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.