DOJ Warns Apple on Collusion for E-Book Pricing

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Apple ( AAPL) may be the subject of an antitrust lawsuit for colluding with e-book publishers to raise prices on e-books, according to sources close to the matter.

A lawsuit may still be avoided as several of the parties may try to settle out of court. This could lead to cheaper prices for e-books, potentially, said sources close to the situation.

The story was first profiled in The Wall Street Journal.

Including Apple, five book publishers are also included in the potential lawsuit. Simon & Schuster, a division of CBS ( CBS); Penguin Group, a division of Pearson ( PSO); French book publisher Hachette Book Group; Macmillan, a division of Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH; and HarperCollins Publishers, a division of News Corp. ( NWSA).

E-book pricing has also been an issue for Apple in Europe as well as the United States. In late 2011, the European Commission launched a probe into whether Apple and these same five publishing houses raised prices for e-books illegally in 2010.

Apple couldn't immediately be reached for comment for this story.

Apple shares were up 1.3% in Thursday trading to $537.57.

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-- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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