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Booksellers report Amazon to the OFT

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Independent booksellers have reported Amazon to the Office of Fair Trading claiming that the online giant’s new marketplace selling rules are unfair, it’s been reported.

The move comes after Amazon added a new rule for its marketplace sellers that they must make sure their Amazon prices are the same or lower than their online prices elsewhere. Among those affected would be sellers who have their own websites as well as their Amazon listings. Because Amazon charges fees for sales made through them, many booksellers can afford to charge a lower price on their own websites.

On its website Amazon says: “In order to offer customers the best possible experience on, beginning March 31 Amazon will require price parity for all sellers selling under the marketplace participation agreement.” That means the total price payable must “generally be the same or lower than on the seller’s other non-physical sales channels.”

Sellers have until May 1 to make the changes or lose their selling privileges.

Scotland on Sunday reported that a group of up to a dozen stores had complained to the OFT that Amazon’s actions were unfairly restricting their ability to set their own prices. The Bookseller says the Booksellers’ Association is encouraging the OFT to investigate the complaints.

The OFT today told Internet Retailing that it was unable to confirm complaints received against an individual trader.

Our view: You can see why small traders would be upset that Amazon’s trying to guarantee itself the lowest price in the market. But equally you can see why Amazon would be looking to give itself the most competitive position it can. It’s a classic David vs Goliath scenario, and it will be interesting to see what the OFT’s decision on this will be.

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