The British Booksellers Association is demanding the government act to curb Amazon.com’s “relentless expansion,” which it says is forcing the mass closure of independent booksellers. France’s culture minister has simultaneously accused the online company of creating a “virtual monopoly.”
According to the Guardian, the number of independent bookstores in the U.K. has fallen from 1,535 in 2005 to just 1,028 this year, and the Bookseller’s Association says the stores are closing at a rate of one per week, a trend it links to Amazon’s ability to cut prices and undercut other stores.
In France, the culture minister went even further, accusing Amazon of dumping books onto the market and slashing prices “to get a foothold in markets only to raise them as soon as they have established a virtual monopoly.” France has laws that prevent stores from discounting book prices beyond 5%, but Amazon entices buyers by offering free postage and fast delivery. France, which uses many different protectionist methods, is now said to be thinking of banning the use of free postage.
Meanwhile in the U.S., the Department of Justice is in the early stages of a trial where Apple is accused of conspiring with book publishers to adopt the “agency model” of book pricing that could thwart Amazon’s price-cutting habits.