If you read ebooks, you may have some money waiting for you, courtesy of a $450 million legal settlement from Apple (AAPL).
On Tuesday, Apple will start giving credits and sending out checks to millions of ebook consumers, according to law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, which worked on the case. As part of the 2014 settlement, Apple is paying $400 million directly to consumers, while attorneys are receiving the other $50 million. The credits should appear directly in consumers' accounts at retailers such as Amazon (AMZN), Barnes & Noble (BKS), Apple, and Kobo, the statement said.
While the payments aren't a lot -- $6.93 for ebooks that were New York Times bestsellers or $1.57 for all other books -- receiving a credit will likely be appreciated by consumers, even if they can't exactly recall what the lawsuit was about. The case stems from Apple's entry into the ebook market in 2010 as part of the introduction of the iPad. Publishers, frustrated with Amazon's pressure on pricing, agreed to Apple's terms. But that included allowing the publishers to set their own prices, which the lawsuit complained prompted illegal price fixing from the publishers.
The collusion caused the cost of ebooks to rise as much as 50 percent to $14.99, compared with Amazon's price of $9.99, Hagens Berman said.
The credit process should be fairly simple for consumers.
If you bought ebooks from one of five big publishers between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012, you are eligible for credits. The publishers are Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin, and Simon & Schuster. (Simon & Schuster is owned by CBS, the parent company of CBS MoneyWatch.)
Amazon, for one, is sending out emails to customers on Tuesday alerting them about the credits, which will appear as a gift card in customers' accounts.
"You don't have to do anything to claim your credit, we have already added it to your Amazon account. We will automatically apply your available credit to your purchase of qualifying items through Amazon, an Amazon device or an Amazon app," Amazon said in an email.
The credit is good for one year, Amazon said.
Customers who requested a check will receive one in the mail, although the deadline for requesting payment via check was in October 2014. Otherwise, ebook buyers will receive the credit in their accounts at the retailers where they bought their ebooks.