By Carolyn Kellogg
The Book Depository is a British-based online bookseller that ships to countries around the world, for free. To bring that point home, it has built a map that shows who bought what, where, just now. The window of the map moves to reach the most recent purchase, zooming back and forth from Germany to Singapore to the United States to Australia to Norway. In each location, the title pops up. It’s hypnotic. That’s partly because it’s a simple, elegant interface. But it’s also because it shows what books other people are purchasing, and that’s inherently interesting to people who like books.
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The Book Depository
| By Graeme Neill
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has joined the UK’s Office of Fair Trading in giving the go-ahead to Amazon’s acquisition of The Book Depository.
In its ruling, it said “the proposed acquisition was unlikely to substantially lessen competition in any relevant market”. It argued the merged firm would continue to face competition from Australian and overseas-based retailers.
| By Neill Denny
The Office of Fair Trading has delayed its verdict thrice before delivering what is plainly a wrong decision—to clear the merger betwen Amazon and The Book Depository. Perhaps the bureaucrat’s intention was to show how it agonised over its verdict.
In justifying its bizarre decision, the OFT resolved that taking over The Book Depository would not result in a substantial lessening of competition in the UK, this as TBD only has 2%–4% of the online market. At a basic level this is of course true, that such a small market share swapping ownership can never lead to a “substantial lessening”, but given that Amazon already has 70% to 80% of the market it is a semantic smokescreen of the worst kind. The OFT is ignoring the 800lb gorilla in the room to study the pattern on the carpet.
Even worse, considering that TBD was the biggest online-only competitor to Amazon, and the struggle it had to get to just 4% of the market, a chance like this to shine a spotlight on Amazon is unlikely ever to come again.
| By Lisa Campbell
The Booksellers Association has said the Office of Fair Trading’s decision to clear the merger between Amazon and The Book Depository will give Amazon more power to put its competitors out of business.
The OFT announced today its four-month-long investigation into the merger of the two internet companies and said the takeover would not lead to a lessening of competition within the UK book industry. The decision has prompted calls from the Publishers Association for the body to monitor the book retailing market as a whole, particularly online bookselling.
The BA said the merger will hurtle the industry further into a “monopoly situation.” Tim Godfray, chief executive of the BA, said: “ Amazon now has even more power to put its bookseller competitors out of business and, having done that, it will be in an excellent position to increase prices and/or reduce choice.”
The OFT decided there was limited pre-merger competition between the two companies and found that competition within Amazon Marketplace would continue to be strong after the takeover. It also found that with popular books, Amazon would face strong post-merger competition from bricks and mortar booksellers, supermarkets and other online retailers, including other Amazon Marketplace sellers. For deep range titles, the OFT decided Amazon would face rivalry from other online retailers and Amazon Marketplace sellers.
Godfray added: “The numbers of high street bookshops are currently declining, producing, in effect, less competition for Amazon. The suggestion by the OFT in its judgement that sellers on Amazon Marketplace offer competition to Amazon, when the latter takes a commission on every sale, is difficult to understand. Any deal that threatens their survival on the high street still further should receive proper scrutiny by the government and competition authorities. In any review of competition issues, we think that the public interest aspects should play an important part.”
The Book Depository
19.07.11 | Bookseller Staff
The Bookseller has added its voice to calls for Amazon’s acquisition of The Book Depository (TBD) to be referred to the Competition Commission.
The Office of Fair Trading’s deadline for submissions about the merger ended at 5pm last night (18th July), and in its letter The Bookseller Group, publishers of The Bookseller, argues that if the merger goes ahead, Amazon could have an over-dominant share of the bookselling market which may ultimately affect customers’ choice in books.
Nigel Roby, m.d of The Bookseller Group, said: “It is not that TBD’s acquisition creates a sudden, new, anti-competitive position; it is rather that it is the straw that broke the camel’s back. If Amazon is in a stronger position to demand better terms from publishers, this could also have a knock-on effect for independents and smaller chains if publishers seek to maintain revenues.”
| Lisa Campbell
The Booksellers Association has announced it will formally oppose the merger of Amazon and The Book Depository, with the BA saying that Amazon already had a “de facto monopoly”. Meanwhile, the PA is actively considering opposing the deal. The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is investigating the acquisition, which is likely to be the largest the book industry has seen since the government body probed Waterstone’s takeover of Ottakar’s in 2006.
Online bookseller acquires UK rival, prompting worries about domination of trade.
By Zoe Wood
Amazon acquired its rival The Book Depository yesterday in a move that industry experts warned could tighten the American company’s “stranglehold” over the online book trade in the UK.
Amazon acquired the Gloucester firm, which claims to be the fastest-growing bookseller in Europe, for an undisclosed sum. With books dispatched to more than 100 countries, The Book Depository made an operating profit of £2.3m last year on sales of £69m in the year to June 2010. Turnover is thought to have nearly doubled to £120m in the last financial year, with just a quarter of its sales in the UK.
The company was founded in 2004 by the Irish entrepreneur Andrew Crawford with the mantra of “selling ‘less of more’ rather than ‘more of less'”. It aimed to sell 6m titles covering anything from flower arranging to aircraft piston engines differentiating itself from rival retailers that increasingly focused on bestsellers.