Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Authors Accuse Amazon of Antitrust Violations

A long list of authors and the American Booksellers Association are requesting Obama's Justice Department investigate Amazon for antitrust and anti-competitive behavior.

From Authors United to the DOJ:
In recent years, Amazon has used its dominance in ways that we believe harm the interests of America’s readers, impoverish the book industry as a whole, damage the careers of (and generate fear among) many authors, and impede the free flow of ideas in our society.
What I think is curious about this dispute is the expectation that Obama's infamous Justice Department is expected by all these writers to deliver some sort of fair and equitable ruling. I find that beyond belief, whether we are talking about books or people of any race or occupation. There is something surreal about appealing to this Justice Department for a fair solution.

I see famous names on the list, but many noteworthy authors are missing as well.

These same groups have tried to interest the Justice Department in this Amazon dispute before with no success. Perhaps that's why the ABA included in its letter:
We are concerned that the mega-book-retailer Amazon.com has
achieved such considerable market power with such questionable business tactics that it is undermining the ecosystem of the entire book industry in a way that will be detrimental, especially to mid-list authors, new authors, and minority voices.
Call me cynical, but alerting Obama's Justice Department to a "minority" angle on this is probably done with a view that there is no other way to capture their interest.

Should Obama's government intervene in this case? I suspect not. But it will if it sees one of its pet issues at stake here, such as minority rights or something along those lines.


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