The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is investigating whether publishers and retailers are in breach of competition rules regarding the sale and pricing of e-books.
A statement from the business watchdog said that the subject has been added to its agenda following “a significant number of complaints”.
No individual parties were named by the OFT, which said: “The investigation is at an early stage and it should not be assumed that the parties involved have breached competition law.”
The UK Competition Act 1998 prohibits agreements, practices and conduct that could have a damaging effect on competition, and it will be left to Deputy Director of the OFT Andrew Groves to lead the investigation.
It comes at a time when an increasing number of people are using e-books and as the platforms on which to access them continue to improve.
Online retailer Amazon.com recently announced that its e-book reader, the Kindle 3, has become its bestselling product of all time - just five months after launching.
And research published by online shopping comparison site Kelkoo last October predicted that a total of 1.3 million e-readers will be sold in the UK over the next three years as the e-books will grow to represent one-tenth of the book market.
Commenting at the time, Managing Director of Kelkoo UK Bruce Fair said: “The recent price war on e-readers combined with the launch of a plethora of devices fit for purpose, such as the Kindle 3, Samsung Galaxy Tab, and iPad should act as a catalyst to boost consumer interest.”