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Amazon Faces German Booksellers’ Antitrust Complaint on E-Books

Amazon.com Inc., the world’s largest online retailer, faces a complaint filed at Germany’s antitrust regulator claiming it’s unfairly wielding its market power against publishers.

The Boersenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, the country’s association of booksellers, asked the Federal Cartel Office to probe Amazon’s negotiation practices when buying rights for e-books. Since March, Amazon has delayed deliveries of Bonnier Media’s physical books to force it to accept lower prices, the association said in an e-mailed statement today.

“With this extortive action toward publishers, Amazon violates antitrust laws,” said Alexander Skipis, managing director of the association. “The action has not only consequences for the publishing house, but is a threat for all e-book sellers and distributors in Germany.”

Amazon, the biggest seller of e-books, has faced similar controversies in other markets, including a tussle with France’s Hachette Book Group. Amazon is seeking a bigger cut of the retail price of titles so it can continue discounting e-books and boost margins, three people familiar with the matter said earlier this month.

Amazon’s German press office didn’t immediately reply to an e-mail seeking comment.

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