eBook pricing probe: Competition Bureau seeks documents from Indigo

The Competition Bureau has asked Canadian retail bookstore chain Indigo Books & Music Inc. to provide information in relation to the government body’s investigation into alleged anti-competitive behaviour in the Canadian electronic book industry.

In 2012, the watchdog launched an investigation into alleged price fixing in the eBook industry. The Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, MacMillan and Simon & Schuster, which publish many of the bestselling eBooks in Canada, agreed to remove or amend clauses in their distribution agreements with individual eBook retailers that the bureau believed restricts the retailers from lowering eBook prices.

Last week, the bureau filed an application in the Federal Court asking for records from Indigo and Kobo Inc., a Canadian eBook company that is a subsidiary of Japanese e-commerce conglomerate Rakuten.

However, the bureau clarified that Indigo (TSE: IDG), which is the largest bookstore chain in Canada, is not the subject of its investigation into price fixing.

“Contrary to several media reports, I can confirm that at this time, Indigo is not the subject of the Bureau’s ongoing investigation into alleged anti-competitive behaviour in the Canadian eBooks industry,” said John Pecman, commissioner of competition, in a statement. “At this time, the bureau’s investigation is focused on Penguin, Kobo and other market participants.”

He said the bureau is only “seeking information from Indigo pursuant to section 11 of the Competition Act to further its ongoing investigation.”

Section 11 allows the commissioner to obtain information from persons who have or are likely to have information that is relevant to matters being investigated by the bureau.

A report from the Globe and Mail said that Indigo was notified of the bureau’s court application last week.

Indigo is not a target of the bureau’s investigation but only happens to have records that may be relevant to its probe, according to the company’s spokesperson.

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Nestor E. Arellano
Nestor E. Arellano
Toronto-based journalist specializing in technology and business news. Blogs and tweets on the latest tech trends and gadgets.

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