Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Round 4 of the Amazon vs Everybody Wars: Amazon vs Germany

The New York Times seems to be enjoying the Amazon vs Everybody wars almost as much as I am. In this latest wrinkle, German publishers have launched an antitrust complaint against Amazon.

While German publishers are joining forces in this antitrust move, let us remember that the largest publishing company in the world, Random/Penguin, is owned by Bertelsmann, a privately owned German company which also happens to control a major chunk of the world’s media outlets.

One of Bertelsmann's corporate divisions, RTL, is Europe’s largest broadcasting and production company. With programming rights in 150 countries, it is currently the largest independent TV distribution company outside the United States. Another of its divisions, Gruner + Jahr, is the largest publisher of newspapers and magazines in Europe, with more than 285 print titles in over 20 countries. Gruner + Jahr also owns Brown Printing, the third largest magazine printer in the United States.

Although it is gratifying to watch the publishing industry attempt to clip Amazon's wings, there is an expression about pots and kettles that immediately comes to mind when German publishers start talking about antitrust legislation.

Amazon Accused by Booksellers of Antitrust Violation in Germany

By Melissa Eddy, New York Times: June 24, 2014

BERLIN — German book publishers have filed a complaint with the country’s antitrust authority against Amazon, accusing the online retailer of violating competition laws and asking the government to investigate.

The complaint, filed last week but announced on Tuesday, comes nearly two months after Amazon began delaying shipments of titles from Bonnier, a leading publishing group in Germany, as part of a dispute over dividing revenue from e-book sales. Amazon is engaged in a similar struggle with Hachette in the United States.

“Amazon’s business conduct not only affects those publishers involved, but poses a danger to all who offer e-books in Germany,” reads the complaint by the German Publishers and Booksellers Association. The group submitted its complaint to the Bundeskartellamt, the federal antitrust authority, on Friday. The document continues: “We call on the Bundeskartellamt to open an investigation and halt Amazon’s actions.”

Read the rest of this article here.

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