May 18, 2012

France warns EU to watch out for Amazon’s “predatory pricing”


Frederic Mitterand

Frederic Mitterand, the outgoing culture minister of France, has written a letter to the EU’s Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia critical of the EU lawsuit against publishers (see the earlier MobyLives report), saying it could foster “predatory pricing” by Amazon.

According to a report (in French) from, Mitterand told Almunia that it was only “by preventing predatory pricing strategies” of the most “powerful” internet retailer that American publishers were able to  “reconcile the price of digital books to levels accommodating the legitimate interests of the consumer and fair remuneration for creation.”

The report says Mitterand warned that the lawsuit “may lead to a weakening of European publishers … to the profit of American companies, especially Amazon.”

What’s more, he warned that “France will pay particular attention” that the lawsuit will not have “negative consequences” on the control of ebook prices in EU countries — such as France, as MobyLives has noted before— that don’t allow price discounting.

Interestingly, as a Bookseller  report observes, Mitterand noted that agency pricing, in the US, was a contractual equivalent of the French legislation preventing discounting — and “Allowing publishers to fix prices has proved to be the best way of preventing a single player from imposing its economic mode” on entire markets.


Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House. Follow him on Twitter at @mobylives