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Amazon Will Change Its Ebook Contracts With Publishers as EU Ends Antitrust Probe (theverge.com) 29

The EU has reached an agreement with Amazon following an antitrust investigation into the company's ebook business. From a report: In 2015, the European Commission began a probe into the licensing deals Amazon was making with publishers, suggesting that the US giant was forcing them into unfair contracts that stifled competition in Europe's 1 billion Euro ($1.09 billion) ebook market. In January, Amazon suggested a number of changes it would make to its contracts, and the EU now says it's happy to accept them, bringing a close to the investigation. The parts of the contract the EU objected to were a number of "most-favored-nation" clauses. These required any publishers doing a deal with Amazon to reveal the terms of the contracts they made with rival distributers. Amazon could then demand that it got the same deal (or better) on things like ebook prices, agency commissions, promotion campaigns, and release dates.
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Amazon Will Change Its Ebook Contracts With Publishers as EU Ends Antitrust Probe

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  • charging more for the Ebook than you do for the paperback! I feel like I'm personally financing Blue Origin!
    • >> charging more for the Ebook

      Don't like the price? Just download it as a DRM-free PDF then.

      That's pretty much how it works for movies/TV: if someone tries charging more than a couple of bucks for an HD rental, people will torrent* it instead. (* = or view a hijacked stream for live sports)
    • by EvilSS ( 557649 )

      charging more for the Ebook than you do for the paperback! I feel like I'm personally financing Blue Origin!

      Talk to the publishers. They are the ones that forced the agency model on ebooks. So unlike physical books (which use the wholesale model), the publisher sets the price for ebooks, not Amazon.

      • by grahammm ( 9083 )

        I would have expected the publishers to prefer e-book sales over paperback. A paperback book can be sold second hand, lent to family or friends etc. An e-book with DRM (which I think includes the vast majority of these from large publishers) is tied to the e-reader and to lend the book you would have to lend the whole e-reader and they cannot be sold second hand.

  • Shit! Back up ya ebooks! Lock 'em up tight!
    • Purge? what Purge? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @11:22AM (#54355015) Homepage

      What is this 'DRM' thingy [wordpress.com] you seem to be afraid of ?

      (Note: I legally obtain the book I'm DeDRM-ing.
      I'm just removing the DRM because I'm fed up with the Adobe Digital Edition fucking things up on a regular basis and access to my book getting b0rked yet again.
      This kind of De-DRM-ing is actually tolerated in my local jurisdiction - as it should be everywhere)

  • Soo.. they say Amazon stifled competition.. but the parts of their contracts that they objected to were the "show us your other deals and give us the same deal" clauses that keeps prices consistent across retailers and prevents publishers from making sweetheart deals like they did with Apple. I don't see how that stifle's competition, per se.
    • by Geoffrey.landis ( 926948 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @10:04AM (#54354437) Homepage

      Soo.. they say Amazon stifled competition.. but the parts of their contracts that they objected to were the "show us your other deals and give us the same deal" clauses that keeps prices consistent across retailers and prevents publishers from making sweetheart deals like they did with Apple. I don't see how that stifle's competition, per se.

      Because this is price fixing.

      I had a friend who is an independently published author. There are some e-book publishers that, on occasion, run sales: they will offer her book for, say 99 cents for a week as a promotion.

      Amazon has a robot that trolls the web watching the price of e-books from competitors. If the robot finds a book offered for less than the Amazon price anywhere, at any time, Amazon will pull the book off of Amazon because their contract says nobody else is allowed to sell it for less.

      • Amazon has a robot that trolls the web watching the price of e-books from competitors. If the robot finds a book offered for less than the Amazon price anywhere, at any time, Amazon will pull the book off of Amazon because their contract says nobody else is allowed to sell it for less.

        If you're not a member of the KDP Select program, which requires that you pull your ebooks from other retailers, you can't price your ebooks for free on Amazon. I used to trick the Amazon robot into setting some of my ebooks to free by having them for free elsewhere and then informing Amazon of the lower price. That trick doesn't work anymore.

    • Quite the contrary, that clause is the precise reason why the publishers had sweetheart deals with Apple.

      As you suggested, a Most Favored Nation (MFN) clause generally isn't a problem. The problem comes from when you pair MFN with agency pricing (i.e. publishers set the prices while retailers take a cut), because it prevents retailers from competing on price for reasons that aren't obvious at a first glance. Rather than trying to explain it in abstract, let me just run through the Apple vs. Amazon situation

  • Despite being the world's largest marketplace, I get most of ebook sales through Smashwords [smashwords.com] and not Amazon [amzn.to]. I doubt whatever changes Amazon had to make for Europe will trickle down to my bottom line.

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