The Authors Guild welcomes the introduction of the American Choice and Innovation Online Act (S. 2992) in the Senate. We are grateful to Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) for introducing this important bill, and to the bill’s co-sponsors Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), and Steve Daines (R-Mont.).
The bill tracks—with some modifications—several important provisions of the House bill of the same name, and like its companion in the House, the bill makes it unlawful for online platforms to self-preference their own product or services, discriminately apply terms of service to similarly situated business, impede businesses from promoting products and services that compete with the platform’s services, and use or withhold data unfairly to materially harm competition.
The proscriptions in both the House and Senate bills are directly applicable to anti-competitive practices used by Amazon to control the market for books and dictate the terms on which it does business with publishers, such as self-preferencing Amazon-owned imprints on best-seller lists, charging high marketing fees for book visibility, and demanding large discounts from publishers to undersell independent and small booksellers. As we explained in our joint letter with the American Association of Publishers and the American Booksellers Association to the House Judiciary’s Anti-Subcommittee, these anti-competitive practices have led to Amazon controlling a daunting share of the publishing market, including approximately 60% of all book distribution and an estimated 80% of ebook sales.
The Authors Guild believes that a fair and competitive publishing industry is critical not only to the ability of authors to earn a sustainable living from writing but also for the free flow of ideas, and stands by to render any assistance it can in passing this critical legislation.