Fearing that Amazon’s acquisition of UK-based online bookseller The Book Depository will give the company even more power than it already has, the UK Publishers Association and Independent Publishers Guild have banded together to oppose the merger and are also calling for a wider investigation into the impact of online bookselling on the book retail market.
It’s “the first time that our two organizations have collaborated in this way,” PA CEO Richard Mollett told The Bookseller. “This reflects the strength of feeling among publishing companies that the [Office of Fair Trade] should block this merger.” And, he said, “Whatever the decision in this particular case, we feel it is high time that competition authorities took a closer interest in the developments of the book retail market.”
The UK Booksellers Association is also formally opposing the merger.
The Bookseller notes that, while the OFT “does have the power to investigate markets that do not appear to be meeting the needs of consumers,” it wouldn’t comment on whether it was going to launch a more general investigation into the bookselling market as a whole.
The OFT is soliciting comments on the Amazon/TBD merger through July 18 and will decide whether to refer the case to the Competition Commission by July 30.
“Hopefully, the PA and IPG’s call will lead to greater scrutiny of just what the factors are that have allowed Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) to build up such a dominant position,” writes FutureBook. “If it turns out to be retail and strategic brilliance (which in truth Amazon demonstrates every day) then we might just have to admit it.”