Amazon has responded to a complaint made against it by German trade association the Börsenverein, saying the allegation that it is delaying shipments to customers is “not true” and that Swedish-owned Bonnier has asked it to “pay significantly more” for selling an e-book than a physical book.
The online retailer is currently in dispute with Bonnier over terms in Germany, which has resulted in the delay of delivery of certain titles, and the removal of pre-order buttons. The Börsenverein, in a complaint against Amazon mad to the German competition authorities, said Amazon had sought “to enforce the claims by means which amount to coercion”.
It claimed that Amazon was seeking to increase terms on e-book sales to the retailer from 30% to between 40% and 50% and reported that Amazon had a 70% share of the online book sales across both printed and digital books and was “thus clearly dominant”. It said these “special conditions” demanded by Amazon were driven by the “market strength of Amazon”.
In a statement Amazon said: "We would like to present some local context: it's generally accepted that e-books should cost customers less than the corresponding print edition - in digital there is no printing, freight, warehousing, or returns.
“We believe that this fact should be reflected in the terms under which booksellers buy their books from publishers, and this is the case in our terms with most publishers around the world, including in Germany. For the vast majority of the books we sell from Bonnier, it is asking us to pay significantly more when we sell a digital edition than when we sell a print edition of the same title."
The retailer also said it was buying “less stock than we would normally do so” from Bonnier, but shipping orders immediately if they were in stock. “Orders of titles that we have in stock, we ship immediately. Titles that we do not have in stock temporarily, customers can still order - then we order these titles at Bonnier. The delivery time of such title is accordingly dependent on how long Bonnier needs to execute our orders. Once the ordered titles arrive with us, we send it immediately to customers."
The reasoning echoes Amazon’s response to complaints by Hachette Book Group in the US, with which it is also negotiating terms, that books were subject to delayed shipping.