BA makes submission to EU Amazon Marketplace investigation

BA makes submission to EU Amazon Marketplace investigation

The Booksellers Association (BA) has made a submission to the European Commission in response to its Amazon Marketplace investigation, saying the firm's retail model is "hugely detrimental" to the book sector.

The European Commission launched an anti-trust probe into how Amazon uses sensitive data from independent retailers who sell on Marketplace in July 2019. The investigation will assess whether Amazon's use of data is in breach of European Union competition rules. Amazon has said it will co-operate fully. 

In response to the investigation the BA carried out a survey of its members in relation to the operation of Amazon Marketplace, finding concerns from across the book sector. The submission also makes the case that Amazon's use of data goes well beyond the operation of Marketplace.  

The BA said: "The background material graphically demonstrates how, over the past several years, Amazon Marketplace has grown to dominate the book industry as a whole through a commercial strategy designed to undermine and eventually eliminate competition in the sale of books and eBooks. This strategy has, of course, been replicated across all consumer retail sectors, but its impact on bookselling and book publishing is particularly pernicious given the importance of books from the perspective of consumer welfare, education and the public interest."

BA m.d. Meryl Halls said the trade association is ready to assist the European Commission with its investigation and "hopes that it will take urgent action". 

She said: "Amazon is a company with market power on an unprecedented scale and scope and it has not refrained from using and potentially abusing this power. It’s encouraging that the EU is progressing with its investigation into Amazon Marketplace. Amazon’s predatory pricing and troubling exercise of monopsony power, in particular when it is operating a retail model based on a clear conflict of interest, are hugely detrimental to the book sector and wider retail markets as a whole."

In July 2019, the American Booksellers Association made a submission urging the US Federal Trade Commission to investigate anti-competitive conduct on Amazon MarketPlace, and the US Department of Justice continues its investigation into alleged abuses by big tech companies.

A spokesman for Amazon said: "We are cooperating fully with the European Commission and continue working hard to support businesses of all sizes and help them grow."