Audible 'abusing' market position in Germany

Audible 'abusing' market position in Germany

Amazon is abusing its dominant position in the audiobook market, the German booksellers association has alleged, while lodging complaints with German competition authorities and the European Commission.

The trade body says Amazon is using its 90% share of the audiobook market in Germany to force publishers to accept “unreasonable conditions” for the marketing of audiobooks, according to Reuters.

It is thought around 90% of audiobook downloads in Germany are made through Amazon’s Audible arm or through Apple’s iTunes store, which is exclusively supplied by Audible.

Alexander Skipis, the head of the German Book Trade body, said: “The business model of Amazon and Audible is aimed at destroying the excellent book trade structure in Germany. These companies are avowedly on the way to establish a monopoly.”

The European Commission said it would assess the complaint. Amazon has not yet responded with a comment.

In June this year, the European Commission revealed it had launched a probe into the way Amazon distributes e-books and its relationship with publishers, particularly focusing on contract clauses that "require publishers to inform Amazon about more favourable or alternative terms offered to Amazon's competitors” otherwise known as ‘Most Favoured Nation’ (MFN) clauses.

The UK’s Bookseller Association has also lobbied the UK competition authorities over concerns with Amazon’s dominance of the e-book market and at its annual conference in Warwick yesterday (21st September) called on the EC to widen its investigation into its dominance of the print book market too.

The BA’s president, Tim Walker, said: “I believe that Amazon's perceived dominance of the book market here in the UK harms consumer choice and its huge power is bad for publishers, bad for authors, bad for bookshops and ultimately that Amazon's dominant position may be bad for book buyers and readers.

"…It is our view that this (EC) investigation should be widened still further to look at possible anti-competitive practices in both the e-book and paperbook market  and the BA is pressing towards this goal."