Friday, May 30, 2014

France calls for EC action on Amazon 'abuse'

29.05.14 | Barbara Casassus - The Bookseller

French culture minister Aurélie Filippetti has called for the European Commission (EC) to take measures to prevent abuse of dominance by Amazon.

She was reacting to the dispute between Amazon and the Hachette Book Group, the US division of Hachette Livre, over delayed delivery of the publisher’s titles and removal of the pre-order button for some forthcoming releases, allegedly because the two companies cannot agree on commercial terms for e-book sales.

For Filippetti, Amazon “is simply preventing readers from having access to titles of their choice.” These practices are “a new illustration of the risk presented by Amazon’s search for a dominant position in all countries at the price of aggressive and destructive commercial practices.” Accusing the online retailer of holding publishers, readers and authors hostage, she said that “blackmailing” publishers by restricting public access to their catalogues in order to impose tougher commercial terms was “intolerable.”

Aimed at Amazon, the French parliament is in the process of adopting a law banning free deliveries of physical books sold under the fixed book price covered by the Lang Law of 1981, which allows retail discounts on the publisher’s retail price of up to 5%. The practice is seen as unfair competition to independent bookstores, which remain more numerous in France than in many other countries. The bill is still awaiting EC approval.

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