Writing at Ars Technica, Tim De Chant reports that a class-action lawsuit is underway over Amazon’s deals with major publishers:
The suit seeks to compensate independent booksellers for Amazon’s and publishers’ practices and put an injunction on the alleged anticompetitive practices. The named plaintiff is Bookends and Beginnings, a physical and online bookstore located in Evanston, Illinois, just north of Chicago. Amazon, which got its start selling books during the dot-com boom, has dominated the retail book market in recent years, selling an estimated 90 percent of all e-books and over 40 percent of physical books.
Interestingly, one of the firms involved in the suit is the same one that sued Apple and publishers way back when, paving the way for Amazon’s increased market dominance.
So far, this suit mainly seems to be representing one independent bookseller in Evanston, IL, though given the class action status, it will be interesting to see how many more indie booksellers may sign on.
Amazon’s most-favored nation clauses, which prevent other sellers from getting lower wholesale prices, exclusive content, or early release windows, are a big reason that the tech giant has managed to end up the biggest player in the bookselling business by far: it’s basically impossible for independent booksellers to compete.
Given that tech companies are under increased scrutiny from Congress and government regulators, it also wouldn’t be surprising to see similar action from authorities follow suit.