Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Round 13 of the Amazon vs Everybody Wars: Amazon vs Authors, Agents, and Booksellers

The Amazon Wars are back! (You knew they weren't over.)

In this most recent skirmish, authors, agents, and booksellers have banded together to call for a Dept of Justice investigation into Amazon's monopolistic tactics.

In a recent ruling against Apple, even the judges expressed some doubts as to whether they were looking at the right target.

"Would it not matter that all those people got together to defeat a monopolist? It’s like the mice that got together to put a bell on a cat,” U.S. Circuit Judge Dennis Jacobs told the Justice Department’s lawyer, Malcolm Stewart.

Apple is hardly a mouse. It has its own antitrust suit to deal with over iTunes. Nevertheless, Jacobs does have a point.

When Apple began its efforts to undermine Amazon, Amazon controlled 93% of the ebook market. That figure has since fallen, but because Amazon is secretive about its market share, nobody really knows how much it controls.

The truth is that the market rests in the hands of very few companies. Whether they collude or compete, the end result is always the same: Authors lose out.

Authors, Booksellers & Agents Call for DoJ to Investigate Amazon

By Judith Rosen

Publishers Weekly, Jul 14, 2015

Authors United, a loosely knit group of authors who banded together last year to apply pressure to Amazon during its then-dispute with Hachette, has called on its members to sign a new letter destined for the antitrust division of the Department of Justice.

Last fall Douglas Preston, the thriller writer who formed Authors United, aired his group's concerns about Amazon's domination of the retail book market in a meeting with the DoJ. Now, although the Hachette-Amazon disputed has ended, he said enough has not been done about Amazon's position in the marketplace.

In an e-mail sent Monday afternoon, calling on authors to sign the new letter, Preston wrote: “The settlement of the dispute did not change the fundamental problem: That one corporation now dominates the book market in the United States. We believe Amazon has used its power in ways that harm the interests of authors, readers, booksellers, and the publishing industry as a whole.”

Preston composed the letter to the DoJ, which will be sent days after Amazon celebrates its 20th anniversary, with the Authors Guild. The letter has also been endorsed by the American Booksellers Association and the Association of Authors’ Representatives.

“Today a single company, Amazon, has gained unprecedented power over America’s market for books,” it begins. “We are not experts in antitrust law, and this letter is not a legal brief. But we are authors with a deep, collective experience in this field, and we agree with the authorities in economics and law who have asserted that Amazon’s dominant position makes it a monopoly as a seller of books and a monopsony as a buyer of books.”

Read more HERE.

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