SoA says Amazon/TBD merger "unhealthy"

The Society of Authors is the latest organisation to argue that the merger of Amazon with The Book Depository could lead to “unhealthy domination” of one company over the bookselling market.

In its submission to the Office of Fair Trading, the society said it was important to maintain a wide and varied range of outlets for books in the UK and was concerned Amazon’s growth would inhibit this.

The SoA said: “Of course the pressures on bookselling and publishing are many and varied, and the threat is by no means solely down to the rise of Amazon, but to approve Amazon’s takeover of The Book Depository would in our view be a further step towards unhealthy domination by a single company.”

Kate Pool, deputy general secretary of the SoA, told The Bookseller: “The smaller the range of places and voices recommending new titles, the narrower the range of titles bought and read will be. Bricks and mortar booksellers are very important in this respect.”

She also underlined the importance of the editorial process publishers use in ensuring quality books get out in the market, contrasting this with authors' ability to self-publish books through Amazon. Pool said: “New authors can self-publish with Amazon, but there will have been little if any expert editorial input, and it is perhaps akin to picking a daisy and dropping it on a display table at the Chelsea Flower Show and hoping it will be given a Gold Prize.”

The SoA joins the Booksellers Association, Publishers Association, Independent Publishers Guild and The Bookseller Group in responding to the OFT about the proposed merger of Amazon and The Book Depository. 

The OFT is set to decide whether to refer the merger to the Competition Commission by 30th August 2011.