In an August 16th letter, the American Booksellers Association, the Authors Guild, and Open Markets Institute asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate Amazon as a bookseller. Accusations from the three organizations state that Amazon’s bookselling monopoly is dominating, “almost every aspect of the book market,” and that this is against, “open access to the free flow of ideas is essential to a well-functioning democracy.”
Even though Amazon’s book sales make up only 10% of the company’s total earnings, they are still the largest seller of books in the United States and worldwide.
According to a wordsrated.com report looking at Amazon Publishing Stats (Jan 2023), Amazon takes in around $28 billion each year from worldwide book sales. The company’s earnings claim over 50% of sales from the Big Five publishers and that’s between 50% – 80% of the total book distribution in the United States.
- “Amazon sells at least 300 million print books every year.
- The company reportedly controls at least 40% of the print book sales in the States.
- Some estimates show that by 2025 Amazon could take over more than 70% of the US print book market.
- In the UK, Amazon controls at least 50% of the market, selling over 106 million copies each year.”
The letter acknowledges that Amazon has achieved domination of the bookselling market, “Since it opened its doors, the number of physical bookstores plummeted 9 from approximately 12,000 stores in 1998 to a little more than 6,000 in 2019. In fact, many Americans do not have a physical bookstore within driving distance, which makes Amazon their primary option. Thus, publishers and authors have become even more reliant on Amazon to get their product to market.”
The letter isn’t pulling any punches, and accuses Amazon of using “strong-arm tactics to force traditional publishers to agree to onerous contract terms and conditions” as well creating an unfair pricing with its Most Favored Nation (MFN) clause.
As reported by The Verge, “In recent months, numerous reports have emerged that the FTC is readying an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon, and it could happen as soon as this month. Amazon is expected to have a “last rites” meeting with the FTC this week, which typically takes place before a lawsuit is filed, according to Politico. It’s still not clear whether the FTC will target Amazon’s dominance in the bookselling industry, but some of the arguments outlined in this letter are hard to ignore.”
An avid book reader and proud library card holder, Angela is new to the world of e-Readers. She has a background in education, emergency response, fitness, loves to be in nature, travelling and exploring. With an honours science degree in anthropology, Angela also studied writing after graduation. She has contributed work to The London Free Press, The Gazette, The Londoner, Best Version Media, Lifeliner, and Citymedia.ca.