Amazon – Apple case: German Publishers and Booksellers hope for “permanent change of policy,”

EPA / PETER ENDIG

A no-entry sign at the Amazon site in Leipzig, Germany, 07 December 2016.

Audio books policy changed after German publishers and booksellers knock on European Commission’s door.


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Audio book publishers can heave a sigh of relief, after Amazon’s move to end exclusivity obligations for the supply and distribution of audiobooks between Audible.com – a subsidiary of Amazon – and Apple Computer Inc.

“Our competition complaint has been successful and will put an end to anti-competitive behaviour on the part of Audible and Apple,” Alexander Skipis told New Europe. Skipis is, Managing Director of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association (Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels), the association that filed the complaint against the discriminating deal between the e-retailer and technology pioneer.

“We are very pleased that both parties have abandoned their exclusivity agreement, opening iTunes up to other audio book suppliers. We also welcome Audible’s shift in policy away from forcing publishers to agree to streaming flat rates if they choose to offer downloads. We hope that this will turn out to be a permanent change of policy,” added Skipis.

“Whenever dominant players abuse their position in the market in order to achieve monopolistic market structures, they endanger quality and diversity in the book market and ultimately limit the choice available to consumers,” concluded Skipis, appearing content with both the European Commission and Bundeskartellamt stance.

European Commission clears Amazon-Apple audio book case

The EU’s antitrust arm, welcomed the agreement between the two companies, dated 5 January 2017, after Bundeskartellamt, the Federal Cartel Office of Germany, cleared the case, by closing proceedings against the two companies.

Germany’s national competition regulator has closed its administrative proceedings on Thursday, after a complaint by the German Publishers and Booksellers Association (Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels).

Both Bundeskartellamt and the European Commission had examined a long-term agreement between the two companies in the area of audiobooks, focusing on the exclusive purchase of digital audiobooks by Apple from Audible for sale in Apple’s iTunes Store as well as on the obligation of Audible not to supply digital music platforms other than iTunes.

“With the deletion of the exclusivity agreement Apple will now have the opportunity to purchase digital audiobooks from other suppliers,” stressed Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt. Mundt explained that this change will enable a wider range of offers and lower prices for consumers. Bundeskartellamt closed the case without a formal decision, after consulting the EU’s competition department.

Amazon introduced its audio book services which were under scrutiny in  September 2012.

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