Apple is now the lone hold-out.

As you may recall, three publishers—Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster—immediately settled, leaving Penguin, MacMillan and Apple to fight it out in court. Penguin settled in December, probably to protect their pending merger with Random House. And now Macmillan joins its fellows.

Macmillan CEO John Sargent cited financial reasons for the settlement, according to this story on Publishers Lunch:

“Our company is not large enough to risk a worst case judgment. In this action the government accused five publishers and Apple of conspiring to raise prices. As each publisher settled, the remaining defendants became responsible not only for their own treble damages, but also possibly for the treble damages of the settling publishers (minus what they settled for). A few weeks ago I got an estimate of the maximum possible damage figure. I cannot share the breathtaking amount with you, but it was much more than the entire equity of our company.”

I can only imagine what that number might have been.

I’m kind of disappointed. I would have liked to see what emerged in the trial later this year. The whole thing always smelled bad to me, but I do think the publishers have made good decisions, on finances alone, if not for all the other reasons.

I wonder what Apple, which is currently scheduled to continue to trial in June, will do now? Thoughts?