Monopoly Watch: Amazon Refuses to Sell eBooks to Libraries

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos during the JFK Space Summit at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, Wednesday, June 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
AP Photo/Charles Krupa

E-commerce giant Amazon is reportedly refusing to sell ebook and audiobook versions of works it publishes through its in-house publishing arms to libraries throughout the country. Amazon is the only major publisher to prevent sales to libraries because it believes library patrons should buy their books instead of borrowing them as generations of Americans have.

The Washington Post reports that e-commerce giant Amazon is withholding ebook and audiobooks versions of works it publishes through its publishing house from U.S. libraries, making it the only major publisher doing so.

Amazon is reportedly withholding its content from libraries as it thinks the terms involved with selling digital versions of books to libraries are unfavorable. It apparently upsets the Masters of the Universe that local residents can read the ebooks for free via lending platforms such as Libby.

Mikyla Bruder, the global marketing chief at Amazon Publishing, told The Washington Post: “It’s not clear to us that current digital library lending models fairly balance the interests of authors and library patrons. We see this as an opportunity to invent a new approach to help expand readership and serve library patrons, while at the same time safeguarding author interests, including income and royalties.”

In the modern age, gaining access to ebooks via the library is easier than ever. All that’s needed is a library card and the Libby app, users can then check out ebooks that can be send directly to their app or Kindle for a limited time. Now the question is if this practice ultimately harms publisher sales.

Amazon is reportedly negotiating with a nonprofit group, the Digital Public Library of America, to coordinate the selling of its ebooks to libraries, but the Washington Post notes that the deal would not include any self-published books or Audible audiobooks.

Steve Potash, the CEO of OverDrive, which makes the popular Libby library app told the Post that the company and Amazon have an “ongoing dialogue” in which OverDrive has communicated its “willingness to innovate in an effort to support their business strategy.”

In 2019 the American Library Association stated in congressional testimony the dangers of publishers’ increasing refusal to work with libraries: “The eBook titles from Amazon Publishing are not available to libraries for lending at any price or any terms. By contrast, consumers may purchase all of these titles directly from Amazon. This is a particularly pernicious new form of the digital divide; the Amazon Publishing books are available only to people who can afford to buy them, without the library alternative previously available to generations of Americans.”

Read more at the Washington Post here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address lucasnolan@protonmail.com

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