German Publishing Association Files Complaint Accusing Amazon Of Antitrust Violation

Tensions between Amazon and German book publishers reached new heights this week as a German literary association formally accused the e-tailer of violating competition laws for delaying shipping and stopping orders of certain books in order to muscle its way into better a deal for splitting the revenue brought in through book sales. 

The German Publishers and Booksellers Association, which has about 3,800 members, filed a formal complaint against Amazon accusing the company of abusing its market-dominant position in Germany and asking German regulators to open an investigation into the online retailer’s actions, the New York Times reports.

Over the past several months, Amazon and book publishers in Germany and the United States have publicly feuded over e-book pricing and how to split earnings from books. In the midst of negotiations, Amazon began delaying the shipping orders and pulled the pre-order option for certain Bonnier Media Group books.

Back in May, officials with the German Publishers and Booksellers Association said they were looking into whether Amazon’s actions constituted a violation of the country’s laws.

According to the complaint, the Association argues that Amazon’s actions should be considered “extortion” based in the online retailer’s sheer size and the dependence publishers have on its reader services.

The Times reports that Germany is Amazon’s second largest market, and holds an estimated 50% to 70% of shares in sales of printed and electronic books.

“Amazon’s business conduct not only affects those publishers involved, but poses a danger to all who offer e-books in Germany,” the association said in its complaint. “We call on the Bundeskartellamt to open an investigation and halt Amazon’s actions.”

If Amazon is found guilty of a violation of the competition law, it could be fined or ordered to change its behavior.

Amazon Accused of Antitrust Violation in Germany [The New York Times]