Apple: We have 20 percent of the U.S. ebook market

Apple (s AAPL) now holds about 20 percent of the U.S. ebook market, director Keith Moerer said in court Tuesday. Moerer was a government witness in U.S. vs. Apple, in which the Department of Justice accuses Apple of illegally colluding with book publishers to set ebook prices at the launch of the iBookstore in 2010.

Most estimates had placed Apple’s U.S. ebook market share at around 10 percent, with Amazon’s Kindle (s AMZN) at 50 to 60 percent and Barnes & Noble’s Nook (s BKS) at 25 percent. But Moerer said the iBookstore’s market share was 20 percent in the first few months after the iBookstore’s launch, Publishers Weekly reports,  and is about 20 percent now. (If this is true, the other retailers’ market shares would need to be adjusted downward, since Google (s GOOG) and Kobo likely hold 1 to 2 percent of the U.S. ebook market.) From PW:

“The government called the iBookstore ‘a failure,’ and charged that ‘Apple pricing was unfair to consumers,’ and that ‘Apple sold fewer books because of the higher price caps.’ Moerer challenged that characterization, ‘I disagree. Ebook sales grew 100 percent last year at the iBookstore and it had over 100 million customers.’ The government countered that ‘when you drop prices you sell more books,’ and Moerer said, ‘sometimes, yes.'”

In addition, Moerer said that Apple has not enforced the most favored nation (MFN) clause for ebooks since last year. And Publishers Marketplace reports that “from the beginning Apple enforced the MFN manually rather than in a fully-automated fashion, with employees checking prices one-by-one against other retailers. Thus they ‘tended to focus on the best sellers.'”

Macmillan CEO John Sargent also completed his testimony on Tuesday. Hachette CEO David Young takes the stand Wednesday, and will be followed by the government’s expert witnesses.

Apple SVP Eddy Cue is testifying on Thursday. The Financial Times profiles Cue and describes his role in the case here.