Here's a story. It's about how the world's third-largest company had a legal dispute with the 18th-largest company, and for once, the little guy got something out of it.

TL;DR: Check this page on your Amazon account; you might have a credit you weren't expecting as the result of the settlement of a class action lawsuit.

I got a total of $39.63 yesterday. However, I almost missed more than half of it--which means you should check in at least two places. I'll explain more about that in a second. First the background.

The plot to drive up the cost of e-books

The whole thing goes back to 2009, when Amazon had the Kindle and 90 percent of the e-book market, and was selling e-books for $9.99 as a loss leader.

Apple was about to launch the iPad. Steve Jobs, deathly ill at the time, sent a top Apple executive to New York to work with publishers to try to erode Amazon's market dominance, according to a 2013 court ruling, summarized on Business Insider.

The deal Apple worked out, according to the lawsuit, was to let big publishers-- Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin, or Simon & Schuster--set their own prices on Apple's platform. Apple would take only a 30 percent cut, on condition that the publishers refrain from selling to any rival (say, Amazon) for less.

Net result: Prices for e-books on Amazon that had been $9.99 rose to as high as $12.99 or $14.99.

(On a personal note, one of my books, The Intelligent Entrepreneur, came out in 2010, and was affected by this whole thing. That's part of why I've started compiling e-books and giving them away, like The Big Free Book of Success, which you can download here for free.)

How to get your money

So, what does this have to do with you? Mainly it's that there was a class action lawsuit. The Department of Justice and a few dozen state attorneys general got involved, and Apple and the publishers eventually settled. In the end, Apple agreed to pay $400 million. Much of that money, starting this week, is being allocated to Amazon customers in the form of credits in their accounts.

The rules are simple:

  • You can use the money for anything; not just more e-books.
  • You'll get payments for having bought bought e-books published by any of the five publishers listed above between April 2010 and May 2012.
  • Specifically, you get $6.93 for every New York Times bestseller e-book you bought, and $1.57 for every other e-book.

You might have received an email from Amazon about this. Regardless, to find out how much money you're getting, log into your Amazon account and navigate to this page.

The extra tip

But, I have one extra tip: If you think it's possible you have more than one Amazon account, try try logging in under all of them.

Here's why. When I first started to write this article after I got an email notifying me that I had a $17.92 credit. But then, it occurred to me I was using a different email address back in 2010. Sure enough, I logged into Amazon under that email address, and found an additional $21.71.

How about you? Did you find a credit in your Amazon account today? Let us know how much in the comments below.