Booksellers Urged to Ask Lawmakers to Investigate Amazon Antitrust Violations

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The American Booksellers Association is urging each of its bookseller members to reach out to their lawmakers and ask that they investigate Amazon’s business model for antitrust violations.

To make it easier to communicate with state and federal officials, on March 1, ABA launched its Antitrust Action Kit, which provides booksellers with state-specific letters urging their members of Congress, attorney general, state lawmakers, and governor to investigate Amazon for violations of antitrust laws.

ABA asks booksellers in all 50 states to adapt and send the letters to their officials and to share copies of their letters with ABA Senior Public Policy Analyst David Grogan. Booksellers with questions are also encouraged to contact Grogan.

Earlier this month, on behalf of ABA bookstore members, ABA CEO Oren Teicher contacted members of the U.S. Congress, the 50 state attorneys general, and the 50 state governors in regards to this issue.

“As important as it was for ABA to reach out to federal and state lawmakers, it is perhaps even more critical that every ABA bookstore member do the same,” Grogan said. “We created the Antitrust Action Kit because we understand how busy booksellers are, and we want to make it as easy as possible for them to reach out to their officials. We believe it is that important. Booksellers who believe that Amazon is abusing its power must make their voices heard on this issue if they expect federal and state lawmakers to respond with an investigation. It will not happen without their involvement.”

The template letters provide parallels between Amazon’s business model and corporations that in the past were ultimately charged with antitrust violations. For instance, Amazon has as large a market share in the entire book business as Standard Oil did in the oil products industry in 1911.

The letters go on to note how Amazon’s business model is very similar to the A&P grocery store chain’s business model prior to 1949, when the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that A&P violated antitrust laws. Similar to A&P, Amazon is not keeping prices artificially high but keeping prices artificially low, and extending its reach into production and distribution. This spurs further growth for Amazon, while forcing smaller competitors to do business with it even as it simultaneously competes against them. In the process, Amazon has garnered great influence among policymakers within states and in the federal government, garnering tax subsidies that only increase its market advantage at the cost of tax revenue and millions of jobs.

In addition, the letters cite state-specific data from the Civic Economics study “Amazon and Empty Storefronts,” which provides key data on jobs and state revenue losses as a result of the company’s growth. In 43 of the 50 states, Amazon’s business practices have resulted in retail job losses.

Booksellers with questions regarding the Antitrust Action Kit, or any other advocacy matter, should contact Grogan at [email protected] or (800) 637-0037, ext. 7562.