back to article Amazon tweaks so-called 'assisted suicide' publishing contracts to ink EU deal

Amazon has successfully wrapped up an antitrust deal in Europe today. The European Commission has closed its investigation into the retail giant’s ebook business after accepting voluntary commitments from the company. The settlement allows publishers to scrap some ebook contracts and reopen negotiations. Amazon is technically …

  1. AdamK
    Facepalm

    A Monopsonist is...

    A monopsonist is a dominant buyer, not seller. That's a monopolist.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: A Monopsonist is...

      And when you are the middle man you do both. The dominance is in their retail arm, but that means that they buy more books than pretty much anyone else.

      So the description is reasonable (when talking about the relationship amazon have with the publishers).

      Of course you could argue (as does the linked article) that the description is unreasonable for other reasons.

    2. The Indomitable Gall

      Re: A Monopsonist is...

      " A monopsonist is a dominant buyer, not seller. That's a monopolist. "

      I see nothing that says otherwise. Amazon has "dominant market power" as a buyer, buying virtual stock from publishers and authors. This puts their buy price down.

      They also have a fair degree of monopoly, which lets them charge the buyer more, but that's not what this is really about (although dealing with the monopsony issue will lead to more market competition and also reduce the monopoly).

      1. Swarthy Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: A Monopsonist is...

        Amazon is have aspects of both a monopolist and a monopsonist. They are monopsoiled.

    3. hellwig Silver badge

      Re: A Monopsonist is...

      I'm pretty sure Amazon doesn't consider it's books division to be in the business of buying or selling. They act as a transfer agent. They warehouse product (digitally or physically), maintain the customers (the publishers) storefront, handle the purchase transactions, and distribute the product. Sometimes they even run promotions. But they aren't authors, they don't write books, and therefore they don't sell books.

      It's basically the same thing Apple tried to argue in a lawsuit against their App Store (don't mistake the use of the word store to indicate Apple is responsible). Saying essentially that people who use the AppStore can't sure Apple because Apple doesn't sell apps, they provide a service that allows the individual app writers to sell their apps directly to Apple users.

      https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/01/13/apple_ios_monopoly_suit_back_from_dead/

      And really, El Reg links are too long for El Reg comments? It should read "apple_ios_monopoly_suit_back_from_dead/" if it's getting cut off as it is in the preview.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: A Monopsonist is...

        You mean like this?

        As a bronze badge holder, you can put clickable links in.

  2. Your alien overlord - fear me

    Pledges are to last 5 years. Pity a pledge is as legally binding as giving you my word !!!

  3. John 73

    Legally binding...

    These aren't just voluntary pledges on Amazon's part, BTW, they're legally binding. "If Amazon were to breach the commitments, the Commission could impose a fine of up to 10% of Amazon's total annual turnover, without having to find a violation of the EU competition rules" (from http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-17-1223_en.htm).

  4. heyrick Silver badge

    10% of Amazon's total annual turnover

    1, Is this the figure they quote when not paying taxes everybody thinks they should, or the figure used to work out how much the upper management gets in bonuses?

    2, Is that Amazon Amazon everywhere Amazon, or Amazon France vs Amazon Germany vs Amazon UK vs (continue until bored).

    1. John G Imrie Silver badge

      Re: 10% of Amazon's total annual turnover

      It's Amazon everywhere and its turnover not profit. Turnover is much harder to fudge as it's basically the value of the total amount of stuff you have sold. Profit, to quote an eminent accountant, is 'what you want it to be'.

    2. Mage Silver badge

      Re: 10% of Amazon's total annual turnover

      Yes, supposedly due to buying companies and expanding AWS (daa centres, so called cloud) and never making profit, how come Jeff Bezos is heading to being a trilionaire?

  5. Mage Silver badge

    Amazon Bad Practices

    They are BOTH a publisher and Retailer.

    They push publishing contracts that give them Retail Exclusivity. That is plain wrong. It would be like WH Smith owning Penguin and Penguin books only in WH Smith shops.

    Also they should offer any DRM content in Adobe ePub as as well as Kindle format, though I think DRM is pointless and ought to be illegal.

    I'm an author. I make sure my titles are DRM free and available on all electronic platforms as well as paper, though I'm a bit behind on getting some titles on some platforms.

    Amazon has the potential to destroy all other publishers, wipe out all non-Kindle eInk eReaders etc.

    Why were they allowed to buy Mobi, Goodreads, IMDB, CreateSpace (two companies merged), ABE books, Book Depositary, Audible and others?

    The list of companies Amazon has acquired since 1998 and their marketing practices are frightening.

    KDP Select robs Authors of other outlets.

    Amazon Prime is a pernicious subscription system.

    Why can't you use a Kindle eReader without an Account? Why does changing account erase all the non-DRM (and also public domain) books on a Kindle? Kobo ereader has this obnoxious property too, except you can make an account without payment feature.

    Where do I lock my Kindle from purchases so I can lend it (even when it has NO bought books) without people buying books on my account?

    Why does Parental control hide everything not purchased from Amazon?

    Why does the Android Kindle App report to Amazon (even if not being used, so I use Aldiko ereader and use Calibre to convert to ePub).

  6. Flakk Silver badge

    As a Consumer...

    ...I find the entire fracas mystifying. I don't doubt for a second that Amazon has been doing everything it can to leverage it dominant position. That doesn't seem to be good for publishers, authors, and ultimately customers.

    In practice, however, it seems that the publishers are fighting back in self-defeating ways. Two weeks ago, I decided to re-read Herbert's masterpiece "Dune". I picked up my Kindle and looked up the title. The cost of ordering a new paperback copy was $8. The cost of an electronic copy was $10. I put my Kindle down, got in my car, and purchased a used copy from a used bookstore for $3. In this scenario, it seems that the only winner was the grey market proprietor.

    Where's the happy middle-ground?

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: As a Consumer...

      TO be fair to Amazon here...

      OK, I might struggle, because you write in dollars, not pounds. But over here the eBook is subject to VAT and the paper book is not.

      The used book is obviously going to be cheaper, but may be somewhat damaged and may not have the availability you want.

      You could have got it even cheaper if you had gone to a library of course...

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