Amazon and Apple audiobook agreement scrutinised by German watchdog

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By Larry Banks

The Federal Cartel Office of Germany has kicked off an investigation into the arrangement concerning audiobook purchasing between Apple and Amazon, according to a statement released by the watchdog on Monday.

The Cartel Office said that both companies held a long-term agreement for the purchase of audiobooks by Apple from Amazon’s Audible business, for distribution via the iTunes (iBooks) store.

Apple and Amazon under scrutiny over audiobooks

“The two companies have a strong position in the digital offering of audiobooks in Germany. Therefore, we feel compelled to examine the agreement between these two competitors in the audiobooks in more detail”, said the Cartel Office chief Andreas Mundt.

In September of this year, the association of German book sellers filed complaints with the watchdog claiming that Amazon and Audible were establishing a monopoly as far as audiobooks go.

The association says the two entities were abusing their market position in order to force unreasonable conditions on publishers for audiobook marketing.

It also said that 90% of all audiobook downloads in Germany came via the Audible or Amazon websites, or via iTunes which is supplied by Audible.

In June, the European Commission started an investigation into Amazon’s e-book businesses, in particular looking at whether clauses in contracts prevented publishers from giving better deals to competitors.

SOURCE: Reuters.

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