From The Wall Street Journal:
Connecticut is actively investigating how Amazon.com Inc. sells and distributes digital books, according to the state’s attorney general, the latest of several state and federal probes into the tech giant’s business practices.
The investigation is examining whether Amazon engaged in anticompetitive behavior in the e-book business through its agreements with certain publishers, Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said in a statement.
Connecticut asked Amazon to provide documents related to its dealings with five of the largest U.S. book publishers, according to a subpoena issued in 2019. The Tech Transparency Project, a nonprofit that investigates technology platforms, obtained the subpoena through an open records request and shared it with The Wall Street Journal.
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“Our office continues to aggressively monitor this market to protect fair competition for consumers, authors, and other e-book retailers,” Mr. Tong said in a statement.
The publishers cited in Connecticut’s Amazon subpoena include HarperCollins Publishers, which like The Wall Street Journal is owned by News Corp ; Lagardere MMB; SCA’s Hachette Book Group; Penguin Random House, a unit of closely held German media company Bertelsmann SE; Simon & Schuster, the book publishing arm of ViacomCBS Inc.; and Macmillan. Penguin Random House has agreed to acquire Simon & Schuster, pending regulatory approval.
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The Connecticut investigation is one of several ongoing probes into the Seattle-based company’s market power. In October, the House Antitrust Subcommittee completed a 16-month investigation into Amazon and other technology companies, concluding that Amazon has amassed “monopoly power” over sellers on its site.
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Amazon is the dominant U.S. e-book retailer, accounting for 76% of digital books sold in the U.S. in September, according to Codex Group LLC, a book audience research firm. Rival sellers of digital books include Apple, Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Barnes & Noble.
The e-book market has been controversial for years. Amazon kick-started the business when it introduced its Kindle e-reader in November 2007, a launch that offered digital bestsellers for $9.99. The discounted offering helped Amazon build market share, but publishers believed it hurt the industry.
Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (PG apologizes for the paywall, but hasn’t figured out a way around it.)