Monday, March 3, 2014

The eBook Settlements: What you need to know

I got my first eReader -- a very basic Nook Simple Touch -- back in December of 2011 as my birthday present and was instantly hooked on the potential for amazingness that was in my hands. Suddenly, all the books in the world were at my fingertips. I also realized instantly how dangerous this was. When my library was running low, I could simply touch a button and have it in my hands. I also have a Kindle Fire now that was handed down to me by my dad when he upgraded to a different tablet. But I use it mostly for receiving ARCs and rarely buy from Amazon. If I'm going to buy an eBook, it's almost always going to be from Barnes and Noble.

Not long after I got my Nook, a class action lawsuit against five of the big six publishers (Harper, Hachette, Macmillan, Simon, and Penguin) took place and I was notified in the fall of 2012 that I was eligible for eBook credits as a result of the settlement. I was told I would receive these credits in early 2013 and that if I wanted them, I didn't have to do anything but wait for them to arrive in my mailbox. Money for books delivered to my email box and I don't have to do anything for it? That's like Christmas to me. And I proceeded to check my email every single day of the first four months of 2013, waiting and waiting, and waiting. The watched pot refused to boil and eventually, I forgot about it.

This past fall, I received a similar email letting me know that another settlement had been reached and I was eligible for more credits. Once again, I was told not to do anything if I wanted my credits and to just wait for them. I even received a reminder of this a few weeks later, making sure to let me know that I should be watching for these credits. I kind of felt like Charlie Brown, being duped into kicking the football for Lucy again.

I really didn't think too much about it until today, when I was using a gift card to make some Nook purchases and really wanted to get another book, but alas, I'd already used up the funds on the card and I started to think about how useful the credits would be.

That's when I finally decided to do some research and ask some questions.

A couple of hours ago, I used B&N's live chat to talk with a representative. He told me that the settlement had been approved as of December and that as long as an appeal wasn't filed by the January 5 deadline, we were supposed to get our settlements sometime in the near future. He couldn't tell me anything about my case specifically, but he did direct me to the Attorney General's website about the class action suit.

There's a lot of legal information there and a lot of stuff I don't understand. However, I was able to find a few answers.

First, the reason why I received two emails from B&N about these suits is because there were two portions to the suit. The first half of the lawsuit, as I understand it, focused on Harper, Hachette, and Simon. The second half focused on Macmillan and Penguin.

Second, there are differentiating rules about this lawsuit for anyone who lives in Minnesota. I'm not positive why this is, but the settlements will be distributed differently.

Third, all imprints that belong to the aforementioned publishers are also included (for example, Greenwillow, Balzer + Bray, and Katherine Tegen, are all part of Harper Collins and all their titles are included in the settlement).

Fourth, there was an appeal filed by Macmillan in regards to the settlement, but the Attorney General does not expect it to affect distribution of the settlement money.

Fifth -- and this is the caveat -- purchasers will only be awarded settlement money for eBooks sold between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012.

There are different stipulations for receiving settlement funds depending on how you purchased the eBook. Depending on your device, you may or may not have had to submit at claim form. The deadline for this -- October 21, 2013 -- has already passed.

  • If you purchased the book(s) via Nook (Barnes & Noble), Kindle (Amazon), Apple, or Kobo (formerly from Borders), you did not need to submit a claim form. You will receive your credit activation information via email or postcard. If you wanted to get them in a check form instead, you had to submit a form by October 21, 2013. 
  • If you purchased the book(s) via Sony, you did not need to submit a claim form. You will receive your credit via check.
  • If you purchased the book(s) through Google, you had to submit a claim form by October 21, 2013.
According to the website, the lawsuit with Apple is still ongoing, so you may not have received any information yet because the settlement has not officially been reached.

The Attorney General expects the settlement distribution for all other devices to begin taking place in April, which is not very far away (yay!). The amount of money and the way they plan to distribute isn't finalized yet. At this point, they've broken down titles by New York Times Bestsellers and non-bestsellers and depending on which titles you purchased and where they fall in that breakdown, you will receive the following amount per title (but again, this is not finalized, just what is anticipated).

  • New York Times Bestsellers: $3.06
  • non-New York Times Bestsellers: $.73
Also, it doesn't matter if you purchased the title before or after it was on the list. If it became a best seller and you purchased it during the April 1, 2010 to May 21, 2012 window, you receive the $3.06 for it, even if you purchased it months after it fell off the list. For me, this added up to a little over $16 in credits.

If this doesn't answer your questions, the site is very informative. The Attorney General also has a hotline you can call with questions. The number for this is 1-866-621-4153.

Happy reading! :)


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