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Money Minute: What’s an e-book worth? [Video]

As the buzz over the new and improved iPad continues, Apple faces trouble on the content front. The Justice Department reportedly has warned that it will sue the tech heavyweight and five of the biggest U.S. publishers, accusing them of colluding to raise the price of e-books.

In a nutshell, the feds think Apple and the publishers got together and came up with a plan to jack up prices in response to Amazon setting the bar for e-books, including bestsellers, at an all-too-reasonable $9.99.

The case raises interesting questions about how much things such as books, movies and music are worth in digital form, when traditional costs -- including manufacturing, shipping and storage -- are eliminated.

Ultimately, the marketplace will have the last word -- as long as the playing field is level. In Apple’s case, the feds are saying that it wasn’t.

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Meanwhile, analysts are saying that Apple is clearly on to something with its talk of the iPad representing a “post-PC world.”

“The iPad is encroaching more and more on the kinds of tasks that we’ve historically associated with PCs,” Ross Rubin, an analyst at NPD Group, told my colleague David Sarno.

Apple is touting the iPad’s new screen, which it calls “resolutionary” because of its high-definition display. The device also features a faster computer processor for graphics and a 5-megapixel camera, and works with faster 4G wireless networks.

At a starting price of $499, it’s still a bit pricey. But I’ll feel more kindly about splurging if e-books don’t cost an arm and a leg as well.

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