UK Publishers Association Calls for Antitrust Inquiry into Amazon

Amazon successfully defended their position as lightning rod for discord in the book industry last week.

Late last week the Publishers Association put out a press release, announcing that they were asking the UK Competition and Markets Authority to investigate Amazon.

Alas, I deleted my link to the press release, so when Authors United announced a similar effort here in the US (and made the UK story newsworthy) I was forced to go find the story posted by the Financial Times.

Here’s an excerpt:

British publishers have called for a competition inquiry into Amazon’s dominance, saying that the UK’s retail book market “suffers from a chronic and debilitating imbalance for authors, publishers and booksellers”. The move is the latest broadside against Amazon – which is already facing a protracted battle against French publisher Hachette and a competition complaint from German booksellers.

“We can see what’s going on with disputes in the US and Germany,” said Richard Mollet, chief executive of the Publishers Association, which represents nearly all of the UK’s consumer book publishers. He said an inquiry by the Competition and Markets Authority would provide “independent, forensic analysis” of Amazon’s behaviour.

Amazon is the subject of a similar investigation in Germany, which is based on a complaint filed by German publishers in June. And as you may recall Authors United has indicated that they plan to call for a similar investigation here in the US.

It’s too early to say what will come of the investigations in Europe, but the one in the US will likely go no where. Amazon was investigated as part of the general investigation of the price fixing conspiracy by Apple and 5 major US trade publishers, and the DOJ did not find anything worth prosecuting.  I doubt anything has changed in the several years since then.

But since Amazon is not claimed to have a monopoly of either the UK or German book market (nor even a majority share) I don’t see where these investigation are going.

image by VasenkaPhotography

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. fjtorres25 September, 2014

    Hard to tell where it is going but way easy to tell where it is coming from:

  2. Timothy Wilhoit26 September, 2014

    Interesting timing. If I were a cynical old coot (I suppose I am), I’d suspect the actions were being coordinated by the publishers. Call me a conspiracy theorist, if you like. Heavy doses of harsh reality tend to make one a cynic.

    1. Nate Hoffelder26 September, 2014

      I don’t know if I would call it coordinated, but I would not be surprised if a publisher had passed the news about the UK inquiry to Doug Preston and suggested that he do this next.


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