Publishers Didn’t Discuss Apple E-Book Talks, CEO Says

The chief executive officer of CBS Corp.’s Simon & Schuster unit testified she didn’t know the details of negotiations between Apple Inc. and rival publishers in the weeks before they signed e-book sales agreements.

Carolyn Reidy, the second publishing CEO called as a witness in the Justice Department’s civil antitrust suit against Apple over e-book pricing, said in Manhattan federal court yesterday that she didn’t recall talking to any other publishers about their negotiations in the weeks before five of the six biggest publishers signed e-book contracts with Apple.

“Not to my recollection, no,” Reidy testified, when asked if she had discussed the negotiations with any rival publishers.

The government claims Cupertino, California-based Apple led a conspiracy among the publishers to raise prices and to force Inc., the No. 1 e-book seller, to abandon its $9.99 price for e-book versions of bestselling books. Justice Department lawyers claim Reidy and the other CEOs made dozens of telephone calls to one another in December 2009 and January 2010.

Apple claims it did nothing wrong and is fighting the government’s charges. The company claims it negotiated with each of the publishers for its own commercial benefit and was “indifferent” to how the publishers structured their agreements with Amazon.

Reidy’s testimony at the non-jury trial before U.S. District Judge Denise Cote followed that of Penguin Group USA Inc. CEO David Shanks, who took the stand on June 4.

Apple is the last defendant remaining in the case after the government reached settlements with the five publishers: Simon & Schuster, Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH’s Macmillan unit, Lagardere SCA’s Hachette Book Group, Pearson Plc’s Penguin unit and News Corp.’s HarperCollins. A sixth publisher, Random House Inc., isn’t involved in the U.S. suit.

The case is U.S. v. Apple Inc., 12-cv-02826, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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