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German culture minister supports author Amazon protest

The German minister for culture and media "welcomes and supports" a campaign by German-language authors accusing Amazon of manipulating its recommended reading lists and availability of books, according to a report in The Local.

Monika Grütters of Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling Christian Democrats (CDU) said: “Market power and domination over central distribution channels should not endanger our cultural diversity."

"If titles are removed from recommendation lists and deliveries are delayed to enforce discount demands from publishers, this is totally unacceptable," Grütters said, stressing that books are both "economic goods" and "cultural property".

Nearly 1,200 writers from Germany, Austria and Switzerland have signed an open letter to Amazon protesting over its tactics in its current terms dispute with the Bonnier Group.  However, Amazon has responded with a statement saying that Bonnier is out of step with other German publishers in its e-book negotiations.   

Grütters said that "literature, books, publishing houses ... are a foundation of our cultural life".

She added: "They must not be subject purely to market principles. Dealing appropriately with these values also has an ethical dimension. This applies to all players - including Amazon."

In June 2014 Börsenverein, the German trade association, filed a complaint against Amazon with the German competition authorities, alleging that the giant e-retailer has abused its market power in its negotiations with the publisher Bonnier.

French culture minister Aurelie Filippetti also criticised Amazon earlier this month.