| June 15
June 15 The American Booksellers Association,
which represents U.S. independent bookstores, has objected to
the U.S. government's proposed settlement of its price-fixing
lawsuit against top publishers, saying it would strengthen
Amazon.com Inc's dominance.
The association, in a letter to the U.S. Justice Department
dated June 14, said the settlement would create "a significant
danger that Amazon will again regain a monopoly share in the
sale of e-books."
Booksellers and publishers have been frustrated with Amazon,
the world's largest Internet retailer, for using books as a loss
leader to attract customers for more expensive products. They
say the practice hurts bookstores.
A spokesman for the Department of Justice declined comment.
A spokesman for Amazon did not immediately return a request for
Independent booksellers started selling electronic books in
late 2010, three years after Amazon introduced its first Kindle
In an antitrust lawsuit in April, the Justice Department
sued Apple Inc and two publishers, saying they, and
three other publishers, with which it simultaneously settled,
conspired to fix the prices of e-books to break Amazon's
Apple had successfully convinced publishers to use the
"agency model" that allows publishers to set the price of
e-books, and in turn Apple would take a 30 percent cut, the
government said at the time.
Under the proposed settlement, the three publishers would
agree not to use the agency model for two years, in contrast to
the "wholesale model" in which retailers pay for the product and
charge what they like.
The settlement the government reached in April with the
three publishers would allow Amazon to resume discounting books.
Amazon said at the time that it planned to lower prices on books
associated with its Kindle e-reader.
The booksellers association said in its letter that the
adoption of agency pricing had helped lowered Amazon's share of
the e-book market to 60 percent from 90 percent.
The three publishers that agreed to settle are News Corp's
HarperCollins Publishers Inc, CBS Corp's Simon
& Schuster Inc, and Lagardere SCA's Hachette Book
Macmillan, a unit of Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck
GmbH, and Pearson Plc's Penguin Group, have said they
plan to fight the Justice Department charges, along with Apple.
Last week, Barnes & Noble Inc, the largest U.S.
bookstore chain, also objected to the settlement, making many of
the same arguments.