E-book sellers sending settlement credit options to customers

If you bought an e-book published by Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster in the last two years, you might be eligible for some store credit.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

If you bought an e-book some time between April 1, 2010 through May 21, 2012, chances are you're in store for a refund --  or at least digital store credit.

Some letters to customers reportedly starting going out last week, but I only received mine from Barnes & Noble last night.

Being that I buy a lot of e-books, the memo informed me that I am eligible for e-book credits thanks to a legal settlement between State Attorneys General and three e-book publishers. That trio consists of Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster.

If their previous purchases qualify, e-book customers have two options in how to receive their credits:

  • Do nothing and the credit will be delivered in the form of an electronic gift certificate via email, good for where you purchased the e-book(s) (i.e. Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Apple, etc.)
  • Request a check by either dialing the hotline listed in the email or filling out a form online.

Actually, there is a third option: you could exclude yourself from this settlement altogether, either because you don't want to be involved or you want to sue on your own. The choice is yours.

But if you don't read e-books very much, the check option might be the way to go. Yet if you are a frequent Nook or Kindle user, then perhaps either of the first two choices would suffice.

More details about the State Attorneys General e-book settlements, how to receive a check instead of credit, and other important information is available online now.

For reference, here's a copy of the letter I received with details available now the settlement and how it affects customers:

We are emailing you again to share some good news. We're pleased to tell you that you are eligible for gift certificate credits thanks to recent legal settlements between States Attorneys General and three eBook publishers. Barnes & Noble was not a party to the settlements but as a NOOK® customer, you can take advantage of the benefits agreed to by the settling publishers.
Although we are required to notify you now of the settlements, there is nothing you need to do to receive the credits as you will receive them automatically in the form of an electronic gift certificate sent via email. Once the settlements' claim period ends, the Attorneys General will calculate the amount of your credits. If the Court gives final approval to the settlements, we expect to be able to send you your gift certificate in the first half of 2013. 
Once you receive your gift certificate, you can register it on our website, www.bn.com, for up to one year. Once registered, no further action will be required on your part, and the certificate will have no expiration date and you can use it any time to shop the wide selection of great titles on bn.com.
You may prefer to receive a check instead of a gift certificate, or you may decide not to participate in this settlement at all. If you want to consider either of these options, we recommend that you review the steps you can take, as well as your rights, which are explained in the attached legal notice.
As always, we appreciate your business and thank you for being a valued NOOK and Barnes & Noble customer.
Barnes & Noble

Benefits from an Attorney General E-books Settlement Fund
Para una notificación en Español, llamar o visitar nuestro website.

Records indicate that you are eligible for a payment from Settlements reached by the State Attorneys General with E-book publishers Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster. The Settlements resolve an antitrust lawsuit about the price of electronic books (“E-books”). Barnes & Noble has not been sued in this case. It is providing this notice as a service to its customers.

What the Settlements Provide

The Settlements create a $69 million fund for payments to consumers who purchased qualifying E-books from April 1, 2010 through May 21, 2012. If the Court approves the Settlements, eligible consumers like you will receive credits to your E-reader accounts. The credit can be used on any purchases of E-books or print books. The amount of your payment has been determined based on the qualifying E-book purchases identified by Barnes & Noble in your E-reader account.

How to Receive your Benefit

Because you are pre-qualified, you do not need to do anything at this time to receive your credit. If the Court approves the Settlements, you will receive another email letting you know how to activate your credit. Once you activate the credit, it will be applied to your account by Barnes & Noble. (If you bought E-books from more than one retailer, you may receive notices with different instructions about whether you will receive a credit or need to file a Claim Form for that retailer. You will have a separate claim for each retailer and you should follow the specific instructions from each one.)
You also have the option to receive a check instead of your credit. You can request a check by calling 1-866-621-4153, or going to the Settlement website listed below, and clicking on the Check Request Option link. Be sure to reference the Settlement ID number found at the bottom of this email.
The Settlement website is: www.EbooksAGSettlements.com

Your Other Rights

You can choose to exclude yourself from the Settlements and keep your right to sue on your own. If you exclude yourself, you can’t receive any benefits from the Settlements. If you don’t exclude yourself, you can submit objections about the Settlements.
Your written Exclusion Form or objections must be postmarked by December 12, 2012. Please visit the Settlement website for detailed information on how to submit a valid Exclusion Form or objection.
A separate lawsuit against two other publishers and Apple, Inc. continues and is set for a trial in 2013. Your rights in the separate suit are not affected by any action you take in regards to these Settlements. The Court will hold a hearing on February 8, 2013 at 10 a.m. to consider whether to approve the Settlements. You or your own lawyer may ask to appear and speak at the hearing. 

For more detailed information:
Call 1-866-621-4153 or Visit www.EbooksAGSettlements.com

Editorial standards