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Authors Group Asks DOJ to Investigate Amazon

Image: Authors Group Asks DOJ to Investigate Amazon
(Getty Images) Amazon warehouse

By    |   Thursday, 20 Aug 2015 09:27 PM

A group of authors wants the Justice Department to investigate Amazon for what it says is a monopoly on the book industry.

The Authors United group has reached out to the department via a letter to express its frustration with the Internet giant.

"We respectfully request that the Antitrust Division investigate Amazon's power over the book market, and the ways in which that corporation exercises its power," the letter reads.

"In recent years, Amazon has used its dominance in ways that we believe harm the interests of America's readers, impoverish the book industry as a whole, damage the careers of (and generate fear among) many authors, and impede the free flow of ideas in our society."

The letter goes on to say that Amazon has "blocked and curtailed the sale of millions of books by thousands of authors," and also has controlled the sale of some books while not allowing others to sell at all, based on, among other factors, political reasons.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the Department of Justice said it would review the letter.

The Authors United group was formed, according to the Journal, last year after Amazon tried to set prices for books published by Hachette Book Group.

The retailer wanted to set a flat rate of $9.99 per e-book, which the publisher did not agree with because their costs can vary per book. The two sides came to an agreement in November.

The Authors United letter got 575 signatures and was sent to Assistant Attorney General William Baer, the chief of the DOJ's antitrust segment.

According to the Journal, Amazon has roughly 40 percent of the new book market and almost two-thirds of e-book sales. Amazon also has a publishing arm, in which it can set its own prices.

The New York Times published an in-depth piece about Amazon last weekend, which claimed employees are overworked and pushed to the limit, with expectations so high that people cry at their desk.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos defended the company in a letter to employees Monday,  urging workers to speak with Human Resources if they felt like something was wrong.

"I don't recognize this Amazon and I very much hope you don't, either," Bezos wrote.

"More broadly, I don't think any company adopting the approach portrayed could survive, much less thrive, in today's highly competitive tech hiring market . . . Hopefully, you're having fun working with a bunch of brilliant teammates, helping invent the future, and laughing along the way."

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A group of authors wants the Justice Department to investigate Amazon for what it says is a monopoly on the book industry.
authors, justice, department, investigate, amazon, book, market
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2015-27-20
Thursday, 20 Aug 2015 09:27 PM
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