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Booksellers raise Amazon monopoly concerns with European Commission

Article by Loek Essers

Booksellers have met with European Commission officials to discuss their concerns that Amazon holds a monopoly in the online book market.

The booksellers urged the Commission to make sure that consumers will have a rich and diversified online book offering, said Françoise Dubruille, director of the European and International Booksellers Federation (EIBF), the umbrella organization for the EU’s national booksellers associations. The group met this week with Despina Spanou, director for consumer policy at the European Commission, she said.

“In the end, if you only have one big retailer on the market like Amazon, this retailer will impose its bargaining, its rebate and its commercial conditions on the publishers. And if publishers have limited choice in retail channels they will be squeezed by that giant retailer,” Dubruille said.

If that happens, publishers will have less money to invest in new books, which would damage cultural diversity, she said.

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Press review- EIBF position on Amazon


New Zealand booksellers support international action against Amazon.

The association of New Zealand booksellers strongly backs the European and International Booksellers Federation (EIBF) as they join the battle against online retailer Amazon.

Booksellers NZ is a member of the EIBF, which yesterday announced support for the German Publishers and Booksellers Federation, which has filed an official complaint against Amazon with the German Federal Antitrust Authority.

“While booksellers’ and publishers’ battle with Amazon has been long standing, the latest cause for concern is the actions taken by Amazon to deny full access to its services to international publisher Hachette,” said Lincoln Gould, CEO of Booksellers NZ.

“We agree with the EIBF that, while there are different laws in different member states regarding competition, we support the position that consumers must have wide access to a rich and varied network of retailers,” said Gould.

“However, Amazon’s business model has the effect of limiting this wide range of options for consumers.

“They sell books at a loss in order to attract customers to their other services, and they are apparently trying to deny consumers full access to the output of at least one major publisher, Hachette,” said Gould.

In their statement the EIBF said:
“Consumers are the ultimate losers when single companies abuse a dominant market position to impose unfair business conditions on providers. Conversely, consumers and societies benefit when retailers are operating on a level playing field and there is healthy competition among them. “

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The European and International Booksellers Federation  today announced its strong support for the decision by the German Publishers and Booksellers Association (Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels) to file  an official complaint against Amazon with the German Federal Antitrust Authority.

While acknowledging the existence of different laws regarding competition in the Member States of the European Union and internationally, the European and International Booksellers Federation has always strongly supported the position that consumers must have wide access to a rich and varied network of retailers. Read more

IPA Global Fixed Book Price

Global Fixed Book Price Report
23rd May 2014
Fixed book price (FBP) systems have existed for more than 150 years. Most countries with a significant book industry have, at one time or other, introduced a mechanism to fix the price at which books are sold to the public. FBP is viewed by many nations (eg France, Germany) as an important, flexible and effective policy tool in maintaining a sustainable book industry. Elsewhere, for example among Anglo-Saxon and Nordic nations, the very notion of price fixing is considered irrational and unproductive, contradicting market forces and competition legislation.Read more

The book sector welcomes more dialoguing on remote access to e-books through libraries (e-lending)

The book sector welcomes more dialoguing on remote access to e-books through libraries (e-lending)

ebf_logo_transpMeeting in London on Friday 16th May at the occasion of the European Writers Council (EWC) and Federation of European Publishers (FEP) third seminar on the above mentioned topic, the representatives of authors, publishers, booksellers and libraries have welcomed more dialoguing in order to recommend sustainable solutions. The previous seminars were held in Helsinki and Paris in 2013.

Today, they heard from the current practices in the UK, Sweden, Belgium (Flanders), Switzerland, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Finland and Norway. All these offers to libraries are adapted and adapting to the national (or regional) context and are regularly reviewed to provide a balanced environment.Read more

Stand up for copyright: Europe’s creative sector highlights dangers of proposed new WIPO treaty

A new international treaty introducing copyright exceptions for libraries and archives would severely damage European interests.

Creative sector organisations have united to warn the European Commission of the dangers of a proposed World Intellectual Property Organization treaty on copyright limitations and exceptions. At last week’s meeting of WIPO’s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), there were calls for an international treaty on copyright exceptions for libraries and archives.

The International Publishers Association, the Federation of European Publishers, the European Writers Council, for the book sector and other creative sector organisations have written to European Commission President, José Barroso, alerting him that any new legal instrument would severely prejudice Europe’s creative industries and wider interests.Read more

John Mc Namee, President of EBF steps down from EBF presidency

The European and International Booksellers Federation held its statutory General Assembly in London on Friday 11 April.

John Mc Namee who was first elected President of the European Booksellers Federation in 2005 and was re-elected for a second 3 year mandate in 2008, prolonged until 2013, stepped down from the position. Initially due to step down in 2011, John graciously accepted to prolong his presidency in the interest of taking forward the process then in course which led to the merger of the European and International Booksellers Federations into one single Federation.Read more

John Mc Namee, président de la fédération européenne des libraires, remet son mandat

La fédération européenne et internationale des libraires a tenu son assemblée générale à Londres le vendredi 11 avril.

John Mc Namee, président de la fédération européenne des libraires depuis 2005, et réélu en 2008 pour un second mandat de 3 ans, prolongé jusqu’en 2013,  a remis  son mandat de président à ses pairs.

Initialement élu jusqu’en  2011, John avait accepté de prolonger son mandat afin de finaliser le processus de fusion alors en cours entre les fédérations européenne et internationale des libraires.Read more

Book manifesto published by EWC, EBF and FEP for the European elections 2014 available in German

Manifest für die Europawahlen 2014

Bücher verbreiten Ideen, nähren den Geist und lassen Meinungsfreiheit Realität werden. Die Bürger Europas müssen Zugang zu Büchern haben, um die demokratischen Werte Europas, die dem Integrationsprozess zugrunde liegen, verstehen zu können. Bücher ermöglichen uns Bürgern, am wirtschaftlichen, sozialen, kulturellen und politischen Leben teilzuhaben. Das gilt insbesondere in unserer heutigen Wissensgesellschaft, die erhöhte Lesekompetenz verlangt.

Die europäische Buchbranche: Autoren – the European Writer’s Council (EWC), Verleger – the Federation of European Publishers (FEP) und Buchhändler – the European Booksellers Federation (EBF) sind wichtige Garanten für kulturelle Vielfalt in Europa. EWC vertritt 150.000 Buchautorinnen und -autoren, die in allen literarischen Gattungen, in über 40 Sprachen schreiben. Mehrere hunderttausend Personen arbeiten in Verlagen und Buchhandlungen. Das Buch ist darüber hinaus wirtschaftlich gesehen das wichtigste Kulturgut, mit einem Umsatz der Verlage von über 22,5 Milliarden Euro im Jahr 2012 und mit einer Produktion von über 535.000 Neuerscheinungen pro Jahr. Die Kataloge der europäischen Verleger weisen eine Vielfalt von ca. 9 Millionen Titeln auf (davon mehr als 2 Millionen Titel in digitaler Form. [FEP-Statistik 2012] Read more