|European Commission regulators have accepted a concession offer from Apple and four major book publishers and halted an antitrust investigation into e-book pricing, Reuters reports. "The commitments proposed by Apple and the four publishers will restore normal competitive conditions in this new and fast-moving market, to the benefit of the buyers and readers of e-books," claims EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia. The publishers include Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette, and Macmillan.
Under the terms of the agreement, Apple and the publishers will have to let retailers set their own e-book prices for at least two years; any "most-favoured nation" contracts have been scratched for five years. Such contracts prevent publishers from making deals with rival retailers to sell books at a lower price. In the case that prompted the EU probe, Apple was mandating that prices couldn't be set any lower than they were on the iBookstore, a move that was widely believed to be aimed at sabotaging the low prices Amazon was offering for Kindle books.
Despite the arrangement, and the popularity of the iPhone and iPad, Apple is still a minor player in the e-book market. Amazon controls 65 percent of US sales, followed by Barnes & Noble at 27 percent. That leaves every other e-book seller scrambling for just 8 percent.