The week got off to a bad start for Apple when the Supreme Court on Monday refused its appeal of a verdict that it fixed the price of e-books. But for millions of consumers, this is good news since Apple (AAPL) must now distribute $400 million in compensation.
So who gets paid and when? Here’s a guide to who is eligible for the money (well, credits) and how Apple will pay.
What’s the quickest way to know if I’ll collect?
Check your email or your accounts for Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble (BKS) or iBooks from late March 2014. If you received a credit at that time, you’ll get paid again.
Tell me more. Why am I getting these credits?
These payouts serve to punish book publishers and Apple for fixing e-book prices. The publishers already paid (in 2014) and now it’s Apple’s turn to pay too.
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Does every e-book buyer get to collect from Apple?
No. The payout only covers consumers who bought e-books in the U.S. from five big publishers (Hachette, HarperCollins (NWSA), Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Penguin) between April 1, 2010, and May 21, 2012. Once again, you’ll know you’re eligible if you received that earlier payment in 2014—or you can look at the e-books you bought during that time and see if they’re from one of those publishers.
So how much do I get?
Take the amount you got in 2014 and multiply it by 2.5. That will give you a pretty good estimate. The reason is Apple’s $400 million payout is roughly based on the same formula used to award the $160 million paid by the publishers.
The formula calls for Apple to pay $6.05 and $6.54 for most titles that were on The New York Times bestseller list and $1.39 to $1.50 if they weren’t. You can get more details from the FAQ at the official class action site.
When will I receive the payment?
No one has announced a specific date but Hagens Berman, the law firm that led the private class action, said in a Monday press release the payments will come by fall.
So what is this all about again?
The payments will mark the end of a long, strange antitrust story in which Apple and publishers tried to challenge the industry powerhouse, Amazon (AMZN), with a new pricing system. Ironically, Amazon is still the dominant player in e-books today while Apple barely matters.
Now Apple will pay $400 million to consumers—most of which will be spent at Amazon. Go figure.