David Streitfeld, New York Times:
The Authors Guild, the American Booksellers Association, the Association of Authors’ Representatives and Authors United said in letters and statements being sent this week to the Justice Department that “Amazon has used its dominance in ways that we believe harm the interests of America’s readers, impoverish the book industry as a whole, damage the careers of (and generate fear among) many authors, and impede the free flow of ideas in our society.”
Among the destructive practices cited by the critics was Amazon’s appearing last year to engage in content control, “selling some books but not others based on the author’s prominence or the book’s political leanings”; selling some books below cost as loss leaders to drive less well-capitalized retailers — like Borders — out of business; and blocking and curtailing the sale of “millions of books by thousands of authors” to pressure publishers for better deals.
If these accusations are investigated and, ultimately, proven, this seems pretty straightforward. There’s nothing about these allegations that are the result of Amazon being a web-based business; it’s an old-fashioned abuse of power. That is, if these allegations are true.