Amazon gave small, sudden refunds to select Kindle users as a result of an Apple eBooks anti-trust settlement.
Credits appeared in select Kindle users' accounts this morning to customers' surprise. The money is thanks to an Apple eBooks anti-trust settlement after book publishers Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Penguin, and Macmillan agreed to pay credits to eligible consumers after publishers were accused of price-fixing.
The publishers allegedly conspired with Apple to fix eBook prices at the launch of the iBookstore. A verdict was not declared as the publishers settled to avoid disrupting their business. The settlement applies to all eBook retailers, but Amazon was the first to provide small refunds. Barnes & Noble stated it would start sending out credits to Nook customers today. The credits are all funded by the publishers.
Eligible customers bought a book from Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Penguin, or Macmillan between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012. If the book purchased was a New York Times Bestseller, the customer will receive a credit of $3.17. Otherwise, $0.73 will be given. Customers in Minnesota, which reached a different settlement, are an exception; Minnesota customers receive $3.93 for each New York Times Bestseller books or $0.94 otherwise.
In an FAQ on the subject, Amazon states the credits it has awarded will be valid through March 31, 2015. The credits will be automatically applied to customer accounts for eligible Kindle books or print books sold by Amazon.
The money the publishers had to pay back to customers will largely be put back into the book business if Amazon's policy on the credit is any indication. Apple could also give further credits; the company is still in an ongoing price-fixing trial as Apple has chosen to fight an antitrust case.