Amazon Might Slash e-Book Prices to $9.99

Apr 12, 2012 8:00am

Morning Business Memo:

Amazon is the big winner in the government’s decision to go after Apple and major publishers over alleged e-book price fixing. Amazon might decide to slash the price of many bestsellers from $14.99 to $9.99. The Justice Department and 15 states sued Apple and major book publishers alleging a conspiracy that raised e-book prices. Settlements with three of the publishers, Hachette, Harper-Collins and Simon and Schuster were reached. The government says bestseller readers who buy electronic books are getting ripped off. Reader refunds could be coming. Connecticut and Texas, two of the 15 states filing a separate lawsuit, reached agreements with Hachette and HarperCollins to provide $52 million in restitution to consumers. With publishers who agree to the settlement, Amazon will have the right to set final prices of e-books. This might lead to deep discounts.

Is there a new oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana? Shares in Royal Dutch Shell fell more than 4 percent in European trading today. The company says a “light sheen” of oil has been seen in the area of two production facilities about 130 miles south of New Orleans. The sheen is said to be one-mile long and 10-miles wide. Shell said it sent a response ship to the area “out of prudent caution.”

More U.S. homes are entering the foreclosure process, setting the stage for a flood of properties to be repossessed by lenders later this year. The number of homes that received foreclosure notices rose 7 percent last month from February. It’s the third consecutive increase this year, and follows a settlement between state officials and mortgage lenders allowing banks to take action on unpaid mortgages. The effects of more foreclosure sales could lead to a further drag on prices in some distressed local housing markets.

Sony has confirmed media reports, saying it will cut 10,000 jobs or about 6 percent of its global workforce. Sony, whose businesses include digital cameras, personal computers, PlayStation game consoles and movies, has been battered by competitors such as Apple and Samsung Electronics.

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