Independent Bookstores File Suit Against Amazon, Major Publishers

posted on by Lynzee Loveridge

The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza in New York, Fiction Addiction of South Carolina, Posman Books of New York City, and "hundreds" of other brick-and-mortor independent bookstores filed an antitrust class action lawsuit against Amazon, Random House, Penguin, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Hachette Book Group, and Macmillan in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The suit claims the online retailer and the publishers colluded to restrict the sale of e-books — specifically, creating favorable circumstances for customers to purchase e-books through Amazon as opposed to brick-and-mortar independent retailers.

The bookstores are asking the court to issue an injunction prohibiting the publishers and Amazon from “selling e-books with device and app specific DRMs,” and requiring the publishers to allow independent bookstores to directly sell open-source DRM e-books. The suit also asks the court to evaluate whether Amazon is purposefully monopolizing the e-book market and whether the publishers and Amazon entered into a series of contracts which "unreasonably retrain trade and commerce" in the e-book market.

Simon and Schuster issued the following statement:

We believe the case is without merit or any basis in the law and intend to vigorously contest it. Furthermore, we believe the plaintiff retailers will be better served by working with us to grow their business rather than litigating.

Hachette Book Group also responded to the lawsuit:

Hachette Book Group has actively participated in every digital initiative sponsored by the ABA for the benefit of Indies. We did not take any actions to harm bookstores and Hachette has a strong and long-standing record of support for brick-and-mortar shops, so we are surprised and disappointed that a handful of customers would make these unfounded charges (confusingly, one of the plaintiffs filed a formal comment supporting the very publishers named in this new suit, in the recent DOJ settlement). There are no factual allegations that Hachette colluded with any other publisher, and the wild suggestion that Hachette colluded with Amazon belies any knowledge of the industry over the past few years. We will contest this dubious action vigorously.

The publishers and Apple were involved in a separate civil antitrust lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice in April. Prior to the suit, Amazon held 90% of the e-book market. Publishers Simon & Schuster, Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Penguin, and Macmillain have settled with the Department of Justice. Apple will have its day in court in June.

Source: Publishers Weekly

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