Amazon/TBD deal could lead to 'pallid frontlist offering'

Amazon/TBD deal could lead to 'pallid frontlist offering'

If Amazon merges with The Book Depository then readers could be starved of variety and left with a "pallid frontlist offering" over time, according to the Publishers Association and the Independent Publishers Guild.

As the deadline for submissions to the Office of Fair Trading investigating the merger passed on Monday (18th July), details of the joint response from the PA and the IPG have emerged.

In the first time the two bodies have united to become one lobbying force, they argued that Amazon’s acquisition of TBD could lead to British readers being offered a greatly reduced range and variety of literature to choose from, as Amazon grows more dominant and bricks and mortar booksellers reduce in number. The response states: "Whether one considers the market of all book retail, or internet only, or e-book, Amazon would appear to be in exceptionally strong position in each, and that in each there is the strong likelihood of this positioning strengthening yet further.

"The upshot of this would be a diminution of the offering to consumers, with fewer retail outlets, as well as a narrower selection of books to choose from. Over time, the British book consumer will be left facing a pallid 'frontlist' offering, replete with 'me too' offerings, sticking to tried and test formulae, with a diminished range of voices and perspectives."

Over 100 members of the IPG responded to a survey asking for their thoughts about the merger, with many worrying about the potential impact of losing their trading relationship with TBD altogether.

Richard Mollet, chief executive of the PA, said: "This proposed merger is of great concern to us and our members. We feel that the merger would reduce competition, plurality and diversity in the book retail market, and that it raises questions that have long been asked about Amazon’s strikingly dominant position."

Bridget Shine, executive director at IPG, suggested the merger could lead to consumers paying higher prices. She said: "Reducing market channels for publishers reduces competition. This anticipated acquisition will result in less choice and ultimately, higher prices for consumers."