Sunday, July 19, 2015

Amazon and AntiTrust - the Real Truth

All the anti-Amazon bashing that’s underway again vis a vis Authors United simply goes too far. As a lawyer, the latest AU letter is presumptuous and just a little insulting.

As a “law,” U.S. antitrust is really a conglomeration of federal and some state laws that seek to address cartels, lessened competition and prohibit either (1) the creation of a monopoly or (2) abuse of monopoly power. It’s the latter which the AU is holding up in its grievance.

The fact is, U.S. antitrust laws do not outlaw cartels, business competition, or monopolies. That’s right, a business that operates as a monopoly is not per se illegal. It is illegal only when it takes action that abuses monopoly power.

But what I’ve seen so far is akin to the guy who runs into the fire station and cries out, “Fire! Red! Hot! Falling roofs! People fleeing!” and the fire department asking, give us an address. Because that’s the crux of all the adjectives being flung about by AU: symptoms, maybe, but address, none. In other words, tell the DOJ the address of the abuse of monopoly power. The DOJ will want an abuser, a fact of abuse, a date, a place, etc., all the stuff that enables it to fight the fire. But "fire, red, hot, falling roofs, people fleeing”—those are not enough. Not if you are seeking warranted action.

Again, it’s just a little bit insulting that some would try to inflame action with adjectives. The DOJ lawyers are much better trained than that.


Teresa said...

Does this result in your books NOT being available for Nook? I have a Nook, I love my Nook, and it's frustrating to have B&N and Amazon used as pawns in the publishing game. We all just want to read books. You'd think everyone's sales would be higher if all books were available to all e-readers.

admin said...

Hi Teresa,

Actually, the real reason my books aren't on B&N is because I'm enrolled in an Amazon sales platform that requires exclusivity. Long story short, Amazon won't allow me to sell my books on B&N as long as I'm participating in Amazon's Kindle Unlimited. Like most writers, I'm torn about this, and, like most writers, the financial aspect of publishing on Amazon's KU almost commands exclusivity from so many.