Amazon’s book publishing portion has come under fire in the US press for being the only large-scale publisher to refuse to sell digital versions of its books and audiobooks to libraries.
However, during the pandemic, while the volume of physical borrowing declined in American libraries, that of digital titles jumped. Indeed, in the United States, the Libby service allows any individual registered in a municipal library registered in the network, to borrow a digital copy of a book – and if all the licenses are taken at an instant T, we pass then on the waiting list.
But as Amazon’s publishing arm attracts more and more successful authors to its ecosystem – Andy Weir (Alone on Mars), Dean Koontz (Eyes of Darkness ), etc. – she refuses to participate in this system. Thus depriving the entire American digital network of borrowing books of these titles, e-books, as audiobooks.
An embarrassment seems to hover around this state of affairs: Amazon has in fact refused an interview to the journalist of the Washington post which sheds light on this case, as well as all the authors under Amazon contract that he contacted.
The American giant contented itself with sending a press release in which he replied ” that it is not certain in our opinion that the current system of digital library loans represents a good balance between the interests of authors and those of users “.
Amazon goes on to say that it sees this current blockage as ” an opportunity to invent a new approach that will expand the readership and serve the uses of libraries, while at the same time protecting the interests of authors […] “.
Clearly, this is a big money business. In the digital sector, this concern is not new and does not initially concern Amazon. There are indeed tensions in the United States between libraries, which find the price of licenses for digital titles too high (and each library pays for a number of loans after which the work “disappears”), and certain publishers who believe that the ebook / audiobook loan system is hurting their sales volume.
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But in the case of Amazon, its refusal to participate is much more serious. By mastering the edition, the sale as well as the reading materials (Kindle), the titan becomes far too powerful in the field. It seems possible here that the administration of Joe Biden, which is starting to have GAFAM in its sights, is speeding up the procedures initiated by the Trump administration. And the situation of control over Amazon’s book could quickly end up in the spotlight.
Source : Washington Post