One of the core allegations in the Department of Justice antitrust complaint against Apple and the Agency Five publishers is that, in connection with the introduction of the iPad, the publishers had colluded with Apple and each other to set the prices of ebooks.
Paragraph 77 of the complaint says:
Apple understood that the final Apple Agency Agreements ensured that the Publisher Defendants would raise their retail e-book prices to the ostensible limits set by the Apple price tiers not only in Apple’s forthcoming iBookstore, but on Amazon.com and all other consumer sites as well. When asked by a Wall Street Journal reporter at the January 27, 2010, iPad unveiling event, “Why should she buy a book for … $14.99 from your device when she could buy one for $9.99 from Amazon on the Kindle or from Barnes & Noble on the Nook?” Apple CEO Steve Jobs responded, “that won’t be the case …. the prices will be the same.”
Here’s a video the jury will almost certainly see if the case goes to trial. Wall Street Journal tech guru Walt Mossberg is interviewing Jobs at the iPad launch. In addition to the quote included in the DOJ complaint, Jobs says, “Publishers are actually withholding their books from Amazon, because they’re not happy with it.”
You can hear Jobs describe the ebook pricing agreement beginning at about 1:55 on the video. Sorry for the short commercial at the beginning.