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What The Literary Lions AREN’T Writing About – Why Amazon Needs Antitrust Training

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What The Literary Lions AREN’T Writing About – Why Amazon Needs Antitrust Training

If you are like me, than is your go to retailer for EVERYTHING, and I mean everything. Who has time to visit an actual brick and mortar when the internet gives us the ability to purchase anything and everything online? Not this girl. I like Amazon because you can find literally anything you want at a fairly reasonable price. It sure beats jetting over to the mall after work, trying not to hate yourself while sitting in 5 o’clock Atlanta traffic wishing you had a crossword puzzle in hand. It just makes shopping easy. It wasn’t until I read Literary Lions Unite in Protest Over Amazon’s E-Book Tactics, an article in the New York Times about Amazon’s questionable e-book tactics, that I second guessed the giant online retailer. I never thought that the website I came to love would be involved in violating antitrust laws, and this time the literary lions of the world aren’t stepping down.

Corporate Boxing Match

The article in a nutshell outlines how hundreds of writers want the DOJ to investigate Amazon for illegal monopoly tactics. They are writing, no pun intended, to the DOJ highlighting Amazon’s questionable actions when it comes to pricing the authors’ ebooks. Amazon is already in the hot seat for the distribution of Hachette’s books (Hachette Book Group is a huge publishing company with headquarters in Paris) in which they intentionally halted sales by making some unavailable to purchase and delaying deliveries of others by weeks and months back in the Spring. Now Amazon is still halting delivery time, refusing advanced orders and not discounting books as requested by Hachette.

According to another article, Amazon has been fighting with the publisher, a multinational conglomerate with a huge presence in the publishing world, over undisclosed aspects of a deal in which Amazon wants to put pressure on Hachette. Amazon’s current tactic sounds like a muscle flexing contest, with both companies trying to outgun the other. The arguments even prompted a statement from Hachette Book Group’s notoriously quiet CEO, Michael Pietsch.

Authors Stand Up To Amazon

According to famous fantasy and science fiction author Ursula K. Le Guin,

“Amazon is using censorship to gain total market control so they can dictate to publishers what they can publish, to authors what they can write, and to readers what they can buy.”

Sounds like the beginning of a monopoly if you ask me, and there is no get out of jail free card. The letter to the DOJ includes what I mentioned above, outlining the unfair treatment Amazon has against Hachette books, but if I had written it, I might have included a side note that said, “Hey, maybe antitrust training could have helped you avoid this whole mess.” These groups of authors have since then formed a group called “Authors United” in an attempt to open an antitrust inquiry into the retailer’s business practices within the DOJ.

According to Andrew Wylie, a literary agent who has joined “Authors United,”

“It’s very clear to me, and to those I represent, that what Amazon is doing is very detrimental to the publishing industry and the interests of authors. If Amazon is not stopped, we are facing the end of literary culture in America.”

That is one bold statement and a scary thought.

I remember when I was in college and wanted to be a journalist/writer. Whereas I am glad to be in the position I am in today, I couldn’t help think how upset I would be to if a retailer was deliberately trying to restrict and/or eliminate the sale of my writing.

I would be furious! Amazon has such a huge presence in the ecommerce market, selling virtually anything online. I can understand the authors’ frustration with the retailer because it is a great outlet for generating sales for books.

Amazon, Consider Antitrust Training

Like I have mentioned before in my previous antitrust blog, I am no expert when it comes to understanding antitrust laws and their implications. I can however tell you that reading articles like this one makes me become more familiar with the topic and excited to read more articles related to this subject. I found this article to be very interesting, because I do use the retailer on a daily basis, however I would have never known about the treatment of its eBook customers.

Deliberately making a book hard or impossible to get is wrong and intolerable. An antitrust training course like ours could help Amazon’s employees better understand antitrust policies and emphasize the need to avoid bad business practices like the ones Amazon may be involved in. It is never too late to train and re-train your employees on the complex antitrust laws there are today!

Image Credit: Gil C /

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