The European Commission is assessing a complaint about Amazon’s dominance of the print market in addition to its investigation into the company’s activity in the e-book market.
In June the EC revealed it had launched an investigation 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 clauses.
In response to an enquiry from The Bookseller, an EC spokesperson confirmed it had received a complaint about Amazon’s print book practices as well. "The EC has received a complaint on the issue and is assessing it," a spokesperson said.
It is not yet clear whether the EC will launch an investigation into the e-commerce giant’s print book business as well.
Last month, the UK Booksellers Association (BA) president Tim Walker told the trade body’s members that the EC probe should be extended. "It is our view that this investigation should be widened further to look at possible anti-competitive practices in both the e-book and physical book market and the BA is pressing towards this goal," he said.
The Bookseller understands the EC has asked publishers to provide documentation of their transactions with Amazon. One publisher, who wished to remain anonymous, confided: "What [the EC] has asked for is a lot...because of the commercial confidentiality agreements we have signed with Amazon, we have had to hire a lawyer to sift through all the information and work out what we can provide and what we can't."
As yet, no date has been given for the conclusion of the EC’s investigation; the duration of an anti-trust investigation is dependent on a number of factors, including the complexity of the case and the extent to which parties co-operate.