Reports show authors and booksellers are requesting that the FTC look into Amazon’s alleged 90 percent market share of online book sales and 80 percent of e-book sales.
They sent a letter to FTC Chair Lina Khan saying Amazon accounts for more than half of all book sales in retailers.
The timing of the scathing 12-page letter couldn’t be better, as Amazon executives would be meeting with FTC authorities before possible antitrust action against the company’s colossal internet monopoly.
According to reports, the DOJ and FTC may file a case, although it’s unclear what that complaint would include.
Amazon is accused of using strong-arm tactics to persuade traditional publishers to adhere to burdensome contract terms and conditions and receive special consideration for book listing and pricing.
The letter compared Amazon’s business model to that of the railways in the 19th century, arguing that sellers had to pay a tax and abide by their rules if they wanted their products to reach customers. Since Amazon controls so much of the book industry, it can afford to behave this way.
According to Statista, the number of physical bookshops in the United States has decreased from over 12,000 in 1998 to nearly 6,000 in 2019.
Lawmakers have often accused the online retail giant of favoring its own products above those of third-party sellers on Amazon Marketplace.
The bookstores also claim that Amazon has too much sway over what their customers read, which violates their First Amendment rights and is at odds with several Supreme Court decisions upholding free speech. The bookstores’ letter stated that with constant mergers and acquisitions and more sophisticated algorithms, Amazon has grown enormously since its founding in 1995, allowing it to become the single gatekeeper and remove all competitors.
They also reminded FTC Chair Lina Khan of the FTC’s recent decision to ban Penguin Random House’s acquisition of Simon & Schuster on these grounds.