The Association of German Publishers have filed a complaint with the European commission that Amazon has created an audiobook monopoly via their Audible unit.
Each year, Germans buy more audiobooks than e-books, and the voice actors are as big as rock stars. This past summer, 20,000 Germans filled a Berlin stadium just to listen to the most popular audiobook series.
In 2013 close to five million German customers have purchased an audiobook and this is a huge deal, considering this accounts for 7% of the overall population. Audiobooks is one of the hottest segments currently operating in Germany and ironically 90% of all sales stem from Audible.
Alexander Skipis, the head of the German Book Trade body, said: “The business model of Amazon and Audible is aimed at destroying the excellent book trade structure in Germany. These companies are avowedly on the way to establish a monopoly.” He went on to say that Audibles dominant market position to force publishers to accept “unreasonable conditions.”
I really doubt anything will come of the petition to the European Commission to look into Amazons audiobook practices in Germany. There is simply no homegrown companies that have built any sort of traction and the ones that do exist are fighting for less than 10% of the market because they are chronically low on cash to build a solid ecosystem and invest in proper app development and woo publishers to build an audiobook library.
Michael Kozlowski has written about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. Newspapers and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times have picked up his articles. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.