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World’s Booksellers Associations Support B.D.B.’s Complaint against Amazon

The European and International Booksellers Federation (E.I.B.F.) announced on Wednesday, July 2, 2014, “its strong support for the decision by the German Publishers and Booksellers Association (Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels) to file an official complaint against Amazon with the German Federal Antitrust Authority.

While acknowledging the existence of different laws regarding competition in the Member States of the European Union and internationally, the European and International Booksellers Federation has always strongly supported the position that consumers must have wide access to a rich and varied network of retailers.

Consumers must be able to buy their books at the bookshop and in the format of their choice. The more bookshops there are – whether bricks-and-mortar or online - the richer is the offering to consumers, who benefit from a variety of shopping opportunities and sales channels. In a robust, diverse retail landscape, consumers can choose to buy their books locally or online, in the high street or in specialized bookshops, and in the format of their choice.

Consumers are the ultimate losers when single companies abuse a dominant market position to impose unfair business conditions on providers. Conversely, consumers and societies benefit when retailers are operating on a level playing field and there is healthy competition among them.

The European and International Booksellers Federation strongly believes that public policies should promote a competitive business environment so that consumers can have access to a broad array of retailers and a wide range of books in all formats.

“Dr. Kyra Dreher, Managing Director Retail Booksellers Committee, Boersenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, Vice-President in charge of legal affairs at E.I.B.F. commented, “Amazon's business practices have an effect not only on those publishers presently involved; they can also pose a threat to all e-book sellers and distributors in the respective countries”

Fabian Paagman, C.E.O. of Paagman Boekhandel in the Hague and Board Member of the Koninklijke Boekverkopersbond, Vice-President in charge of digital affairs at E.I.B.F. declared, “Europe stands for a free and open market space with fair competition securing a variety of booksellers to offer a broad range of titles – both online as offline. As a member of EIBF, the Royal Dutch Booksellers association strongly supports the action taken upon by our German colleagues to secure this fundamental right.”

Oren Teicher, C.E.O. of the American Booksellers Association and Vice-President for International Affairs at E.I.B.F. commented, “Increasingly, the international book industry is being held hostage by a company far more interested in selling flat screen TVs, diapers, and groceries. It is clear that Amazon is prepared to sacrifice a diverse publishing ecosystem to achieve retail dominance. That’s not good for authors, readers, or our society no matter what country you live in." On Thursday, July 3, 2014, the E.I.B.F. announced, “The association of New Zealand booksellers strongly backs the European and International Booksellers Federation (EIBF) as they join the battle against online retailer Amazon.”

Booksellers NZ is a member of the EIBF, which… announced support for the German Publishers and Booksellers Federation, which has filed an official complaint against Amazon with the German Federal Antitrust Authority.

"While booksellers' and publishers' battle with Amazon has been long standing, the latest cause for concern is the actions taken by Amazon to deny full access to its services to international publisher Hachette," said Lincoln Gould, C.E.O. of Booksellers NZ.

"We agree with the EIBF that, while there are different laws in different member states regarding competition, we support the position that consumers must have wide access to a rich and varied network of retailers," said Gould. "However, Amazon's business model has the effect of limiting this wide range of options for consumers.”

“They sell books at a loss in order to attract customers to their other services, and they are apparently trying to deny consumers full access to the output of at least one major publisher, Hachette,” stated Gould.

The E.I.B.F. further stated, “The French Government also announced… that they are taking action to support local booksellers in their fight against Amazon. In the United States, the American Booksellers Association has led the way to get many states to pass legislation forcing Amazon to collect sales tax.”

In New Zealand the biggest complaint booksellers have against Amazon is that they do not pay taxes on their sales into New Zealand, particularly GST.

“New Zealand booksellers don't mind competition but when they face unfair competition, it is galling, especially when it something our own government could fix,” stated Gould. “We have beefed about the Government's failure to collect GST from Amazon and other online retailers for some time. Now it is clear that the Amazon business model is of international concern affecting the local commercial fabric and culture of countries around the world.”

On July 7, 2014, the Syndicate de la Librarie Française (S.L.F.) announced, “The European Federation of booksellers (EIBF), including the SLF is a member, has released a statement in which it expressed the support of the European booksellers to actions in Germany by publishers and booksellers against the abuse of Amazon’s dominant position. The complaint of the Börsenverein, the Union of German Publishers and Booksellers, is pressure from Amazon on some publishers to obtain discounts up to 50%. The Börsenverein recalls that Amazon takes full advantage of its dominant position (70% of the market of selling online, paper and digital combined) to try to impose such conditions on publishers. Similar conflicts grow on American and British markets and could eventually also cover French publishers.”

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