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Amazon gets competition clearance to buy The Book Depository

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Online retailing giant Amazon has won the go-ahead to buy the UK’s largest online bookseller The Book Depository , it was announced today.

The Office of Fair Trading has Amazon’s purchase of The Book Depository, which it started to look at in July, and says it will not refer it to the Competition Commission.

The Book Depository, founded in 2004 and based in Gloucester, stocks more than 6m books and ships to more than 100 countries. It specialises in reprinting out-of-print books through its Dodo Press imprint. It claims the position of Europe’s fastest growing bookseller, with more than a million customers, and reported in January this year that it expected to achieve £120m revenue by its year-end in June.

Today’s news of the merger clearance came a day after Amazon announced its third-quarter results, with sales up by 44% at $10.88bn (£6.8m), although net income in the three months to September 30 was down by 73% at $63m (£39.4m).

OFT chief economist Amelia Fletcher today said concerns had been raised about the deal by a number of third parties but that, “following a thorough investigation we are satisfied that this small increment to Amazon’s position does not raise competition issues.”

The OFT found that The Book Depository had two to four per cent of the UK hard-copy book market, and that its biggest areas of growth had been overseas. It concluded that there was limited competition between Amazon and The Book Depository’s own website. The Book Depository also sells within the Amazon Marketplace and the OFT said that competition in this area would “continue to be strong post-merger”.

Fletcher said: “We concluded that the UK book market has a significant number of bestseller and deep-range [less popular books] suppliers both online and offline and that existing levels of competition will be preserved after the merger.”

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