By Jim Milliot
The three named plaintiffs are The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza of Albany, N.Y.; Fiction Addiction of Greenville, S.C.; and Posman Books of New York City. The rest of the class, the complaint states are the “hundreds” of independent brick-and-mortar independent bookstores who sell e-books.
Among the issues the suit, filed by Creizman PLLC of New York and Blecher & Collins of Los Angeles, asks the court to examine are whether the publishers and Amazon entered into a series of contracts which “unreasonably retrain trade and commerce” in the e-book market, and whether Amazon has unlawfully monopolized or attempted to monopolize the e-book market.
While Amazon clearly has the largest share of the e-book market, booksellers can sell e-books that are used on other devices, and the ABA has a deal with Kobo that allows booksellers to sell Kobo devices and e-books that have DRM. The only publisher to comment by Thursday morning was Simon & Schuster whose spokesperson issued the following statement: “We believe the case is without merit or any basis in the law and intend to vigorously contest it. Furthermore, we believe the plaintiff retailers will be better served by working with us to grow their business rather than litigating.” In a comment sent Thursday afternoon, HBG called the suit “abolutely without merit,” and expressed its bewilderment and why booksellers would take such a stance in a statemen: “Hachette Book Group hasactively participated in every digital initiative sponsored by the ABA for the benefit of Indies. Wedid not take anyactions toharm bookstores and Hachette has a strong and long-standing record ofsupport for brick-and-mortar shops, so we are surprised anddisappointed thata handful ofcustomers would make these unfounded charges (confusingly, one of the plaintiffs filed a formal comment supporting the very publishers named in this new suit, in the recent DOJ settlement).There are nofactual allegations that Hachette colluded with any other publisher, and the wild suggestion that Hachette colluded with Amazon belies any knowledge of the industry over the past few years.We will contest this dubious action vigorously.”