Booksellers Say Wal-Mart/Amazon Price War Is Anticompetitive

Earlier this week I reported that Sears seemed to have won the book price wars started by Wal-Mart by giving away books essentially for free. At the time, I speculated that the move might actually have positive ramifications for smaller booksellers and for publishing companies. But if that's the case, the American Booksellers Association (ABA) isn't waiting around to find out. The association has filed a letter with the Department of Justice (DOJ) as of Thursday afternoon, arguing that the government should investigate what it calls "predatory" book pricing.

sears books

According to the ABA, the stakes are high. They say the price war "will devastate not only the book industry, but our collective ability to remain a society where the widest range of ideas are always made available to the public." The letter continues that the big-box stores are "devaluing the very concept of the book," and that authors, publishers, and consumers stand to "lose a great deal" if the war continues. But the letter stops short of saying exactly how the big-box retailers have broken any laws.

As a kicker, the letter expresses vague anti-trust concerns about e-book pricing as well, pointing out that the $9 price point deserves DOJ scrutiny.