APPLE GOT STUNG and so did HaperCollins, Hachette and Simon & Schuster when late last week U.S. District Judge Denise Cote approved a settlement with the three publishers accused of conspiring with Apple to fix prices against Amazon’s “agency model.”

From Politico:

With her ruling, Cote set in motion the termination of contracts between Apple and three of the nation’s largest publishers ““ HarperCollins, Hachette and Simon & Schuster ““ and placed control of pricing for e-books back in the hands of retailers, particularly Amazon. [...] Amazon, which released a new version of its Kindle e-reader Thursday, is set to be the biggest winner. The company’s dominance ““ it once controlled 90 percent of the e-books market and currently has an estimated 60 percent share ““ was what spurred Apple and a gang of publishers to develop a new business model for selling digital books, the Justice Department has alleged.

And that’s what gave rise in 2010 to the so-called agency model ““ a pricing structure government officials allege is intended to force Amazon to abandon its tactic of selling e-books for its Kindle e-reader on the cheap.

Thursday’s ruling is just the first chapter in what is expected to be a lengthy e-books antitrust battle between Apple and the Justice Department.
But experts say it clearly highlights how Apple and the five publishers tried to muscle Amazon into submission by designing a new pricing structure ““ and how they failed to topple the e-commerce company.

Apple states it will appeal the settlement, which Judge Cote found wholly unimpressive.