The Authors Guild, American Association of Publishers, and American Booksellers Association today sent a letter to Chairman of the House Antitrust Subcommittee Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) voicing serious concerns about Amazon’s dominance over the book industry and its impact on the industry’s competitive framework. The letter highlights some of Amazon’s anticompetitive tactics and recommends that the Subcommittee consider regulative or legislative approaches to curb those practices. The letter represents the voice of thousands of American authors, publishers, and booksellers who are being squashed by Amazon’s outsized control of over every aspect of the book trade, from rights to marketing, supply, and distribution.
“Amazon controls more than 80 percent of online book sales,” said Authors Guild president Doug Preston. “Their escalating demands on publishers for more money is a major reason why America’s authors have seen their incomes plummet, on average, by almost half in ten years. This makes it harder for authors to write the sorts of books that our democracy needs now. Even more dangerous is Amazon's practice of arbitrarily promoting certain books, while all but hiding other books. The time has come for our law enforcers to enforce the law."
Specifically, the letter asks for reforms that would prohibit Amazon from i) leveraging data from its online platform to subdue competitors, ii) tying its distribution services to its advertising services, iii) imposing MFNs, and iv) using a “loss-leader” pricing strategy (selling products below cost to undercut competition) to corner the market. These and other reforms are urgently needed to ensure that the book industry remains competitive, diverse, and resourceful enough to welcome new voices.
Read more from Open Markets Executive Director Barry Lynn, in his cutting piece in Harpers here.
You can read the entire letter below.