With the FTC reportedly poised to file an antitrust suit against Amazon, the groups urge the regulators to keep their focus on threats to democracy, such as Amazon’s dominance of the US market for books.
August 16, 2023
August 16, 2023, WASHINGTON, DC — The Open Markets Institute, the Authors Guild, and the American Booksellers Association have sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) urging these agencies to focus on how Amazon abuses its monopoly power over the market for books and ideas, as regulators appear on the verge of bringing a major suit against Amazon.
“The open access to the free flow of ideas is essential to a well-functioning democracy. The government has the responsibility to ensure that actors with oversized power cannot control or interfere with the open exchange of ideas,” reads the groups’ letter to regulators. “Today the free exchange of ideas is impeded and warped by opaque algorithms and sales practices controlled by Amazon and premised on which publisher and/or author is willing and able to pay the highest extortionary tax to get their books promoted on Amazon’s website.”
“The ultimate effects of Amazon’s business model—which is based on manipulating readers—include the unfair promotion and suppression of specific ideas, authors, publishers, and the routine disruption of public debate,” the letter continues. “We need nothing more than common sense to understand that the sort of personalized recommendations that readers welcome in the local independent store will have vast structural effects on the overall market of ideas when pursued by an all-powerful, all-seeing monopolist.”
Read the letter here (PDF).
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