Amid Agreement, Europe May Drop E-Book Pricing Probe

The European Commission said that it was prepared to drop its investigation into the fixing of e-book prices by Apple and four European publishers after the companies agreed to let online retailers like Amazon sell e-books at a discount for two years. The commission’s proposed settlement agreement, which is now subject to peer review, would end a nine-month-old antitrust inquiry into Apple and the publishers -- Simon & Schuster, a division of CBS Corp.; HarperCollins, a unit of News Corp.; Hachette Livre, owned by the French publisher Lagardère; and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck, of Germany.