Bookseller Group to oppose Amazon/TBD deal

Bookseller Group to oppose Amazon/TBD deal

The Bookseller has added its voice to calls for Amazon's acquisition of The Book Depository (TBD) to be referred to the Competition Commission.

The Office of Fair Trading's deadline for submissions about the merger ended at 5pm last night (18th July), and in its letter The Bookseller Group, publishers of The Bookseller, argues that if the merger goes ahead, Amazon could have an over-dominant share of the bookselling market which may ultimately affect customers' choice in books.

Nigel Roby, m.d of The Bookseller Group, said: "It is not that TBD's acquisition creates a sudden, new, anti-competitive position; it is rather that it is the straw that broke the camel's back. If Amazon is in a stronger position to demand better terms from publishers, this could also have a knock-on effect for independents and smaller chains if publishers seek to maintain revenues."

Estimates suggest Amazon may already have an overall 25% share of the total book sales market and its share of the mid-market may be higher. Roby said: "Publishers may consider reducing the number of mid-market books if Amazon's share of the market, and the terms it seeks, reduce their commercial viability. This scenario reduces choice to consumers, reduces the ability of authors to gain a reasonable livelihood, reduces the number of small to medium-sized publishers and puts unsustainable pressure on the High Street retailer."

Amazon has also moved into e-book publishing under its own imprints which, The Bookseller's letter notes, takes it into direct competition with publishers.

Roby added: "Over its 16-year history, Amazon has enabled a whole wealth of ‘long tail' titles to find new readers and it should be praised for that. But unchecked expansion in any market can lead to imbalance. Amazon's growth, diversification and its ability to control publishers' main route to market now merit serious examination."

The OFT decision following its investigation into the merger is currently expected to be finalised on 30th August 2011. The Bookseller Group joins the Publishers Association, Booksellers Association and Independent Publishers Guild in objecting to the deal.