A federal judge's ruling Wednesday that Apple conspired to raise e-book prices in violation of antitrust law isn't likely to mean cheaper e-books for consumers.
U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan said Apple played a central role in a conspiracy with publishers to bypass Amazon's discount pricing structure and "raise, fix and stabilize" e-book prices. Cote said she will schedule a trial for damages claimed in the suit.
Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr said the company did not conspire to fix e-book pricing. "We've done nothing wrong and we will appeal the judge's decision," he said in a statement to CNBC.
(Read More: Judge: Apple Conspired to Raise E-Book Prices)
The Justice Department last year settled with the six major publishers—Macmillan, Random House, Lagardere SCA's Hachette Book Group, News Corp.'s HarperCollins Publishers, Pearson's Penguin Group (USA) and CBS's Simon & Schuster—over alleged collusion with Apple.
U.S. Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer said in a statement that the result is "a victory for millions of consumers who choose to read books electronically."
"Consumers are again benefiting from retail price competition and paying less for their e-books," Baer said. But in practice, they have been benefiting since well before Wednesday. Prices have been steadily trending downward since fall, as many of the publishers sign new agreements with book retailers that reflect the settlements reached with the DOJ. Publishers' new deals give e-booksellers such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble more flexibility to temporarily cut prices to boost sales.
As a result, the average price of a best-selling e-book has dropped from an average of $11.79 in October to $7.29 in early July, according to Digital Book World, an industry group.