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EU Asking Questions About Amazon-Hachette Contract Dispute

amazon-logo3Get out the popcorn; the Amazon-Hachette prize fight has gained another commentator. Reuters is reporting that EU antitrust officials are now talking to Hachette and Amazon concerning their 8 month old contract dispute. (Curiously, there's no mention of Amazon's contentiousn ongoing contract renegotiation with Bonnier in Germany.)

The European Commission's anti-trust officials are investigating a row between online retailer Amazon and French publisher Hachette.


The companies themselves - Hachette, the fourth largest U.S. book publisher, is owned by France's Lagadere SCA - have not given details about the basis for the dispute but several media reports have indicated it is over the pricing of e-books.

"We are trying to understand what's going on there. We are looking into this and trying to understand," EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in London.


This inquiry might not have any effect on the negotiations, but I suspect it will at least keep both parties from playing dirty - or at least keep Amazon from playing any dirtier.

The EU's antitrust officials have little direct interest in this contract dispute; it is primarily a fight between and Hachette Book Group, both US-based companies. But the regulators are probably interested in how this fight might affect the antitrust settlement that Apple and 4 publishers agreed to in late 2012. That settlement precluded publishers from trying to control the retail price of their ebooks (and other restrictions).

This particular clause is due to expire in late 2014, and as a result we could see Amazon engaging in a similar battle in Europe. Only this time Amazon could be facing up to 4 publishers at once, leading this blogger (and probably the regulators as well) to wonder whether the publishers might conspire again.

Would anyone care to lay odds on that happening?

About Nate Hoffelder (11109 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

4 Comments on EU Asking Questions About Amazon-Hachette Contract Dispute

  1. You mean curiously there’s no mention of Bonnier, right?

  2. The publishers don’t have to collude “again”. They already have agreement on what they all want so they can all act “independently” in lockstep. Kinda like HYDRA cells.

  3. They sell in Europe, so, yes, the EU is watching.

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