Did you buy e-books between spring of 2010 and this past May? You could be eligible for credits of up to $1.32 per book under a legal settlement proposed between state attorneys general and a number of major publishers who were accused of conspiring to fix the prices of e-books.
Amazon notified its Kindle customers of the possible credits via e-mail over the weekend, but you'll also be eligible if you bought during the period from any other e-book retailer, including Barnes & Noble (Nook Books) and Apple (iBooks titles). No action should be needed to collect; the credits will be deposited into your account.
Don't count your e-pennies yet, however, since the settlement isn't final. Its fate will be decided in a court hearing on February 8 of next year. Until then, the payments aren't definite, and the amount isn't confirmed. The attorneys general estimate that the credit will range between 30 cents and $1.32 per title bought.
Also, you may not get a credit for every e-book you bought during the period. The settlement is expected to affect e-books from five publishers: Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Penguin, and Macmillan. While all are major publishers, the settlement omits titles you might have bought from some other large houses, such as Random House, and from a host of smaller publishers that are also selling e-books.
Also, Minnesotans will, alas, be out of the money, since the state's attorney general apparently declined to participate in the settlement.
On the bright side, this isn't the only financially beneficial outcome of the settlement: Since it was announced last month, prices have dropped on a number of titles at numerous e-book stores. Amazon's message to its customers over the weekend said it looked forward to "lowering prices on more Kindle books in the future."
Reduced e-book prices are also being accompanied by generally lower prices for e-book readers. As our Ratings of some 20 models reveal, several fine performers now cost $100 or less.