Online booksellers group says Amazon is "dangerously anti-competitive"
The Independent Online Booksellers Association has issued a public letter to the EU and fair trade offices in Germany, the UK, France and elsewhere complaining about “recent moves by Amazon to force independent booksellers to set prices on Amazonâ€™s UK, French and German websites equal to or lower than on any other sites which sellers use to sell their books.”
The June 1 letter from IOBA president Karin Isgur Bergsagel explains, “In this latest policy change, Amazon have contacted independent sellers using their UK, French and German websites and said that any items they have for sale on Amazon must be sold at the same price or cheaper on Amazon than they are sold on any other website including booksellersâ€™ own websites. This policy change has been backed up with a threat to ban any seller who fails to comply from selling on Amazonâ€™s sites.”
The IOBA believes Amazonâ€™s demands for â€˜price parityâ€™ to be an anti-competitive measure by the dominant online marketplace for new and used books designed to undermine smaller competitor websites and even independent booksellersâ€™ own websites.
… This policy also removes the freedom from independent booksellers to set the prices that they want for books on their own independent websites and, as highlighted above, to offer sales and other special offers to their own customers on their own websites.
As a result, the IOBA believes that this latest move by Amazon is dangerously anti-competitive, designed to use its market dominance to undermine smaller competitors and independent booksellers and will inevitably lead to a worse deal for book buyers.
It’s the latest development in what has been a growing concern in the individual markets already — see this report from the Scotsman that ran in March, which noted that “Internet giant Amazon has been referred to the Office of Fair Trading amid accusations by Scottish booksellers that it is ‘bullying’ them out of business.”
Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.