EU: Amazon dispute with Hachette lands surprising antitrust attention

While earlier reports suggested that antitrust officials were not likely to act over Amazon’s feud with publishing giant Hachette, the latest developments show otherwise.

According to reports, the European Commission is set to investigate the dispute, which heated up when Amazon decided to delay some Hachette book deliveries and end Hachette pre-orders. While the exact reason for the disagreement between the companies is unclear, some experts believe it is over the pricing of eBooks.

Hachette was one of several eBook publishers under fire from regulators over eBook pricing. The Commission ended its investigation in late-2012 and reached an agreement with Apple and the publishers regarding their pricing practices.

The publishers settled a similar case with US authorities, but Apple went to court, where a judge sided with the US Department of Justice.

While the DOJ has not indicated interest in probing the feud between Hachette and Amazon, suggesting instead that it is simply a business dispute, the Commission announced at a London conference that it is “looking into this and trying to understand” the situation.

Hachette, whose parent company is France-based Lagadere, is the fourth largest publisher in the US.

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