A class-action lawsuit was filed by three independent bookstores in New York late last week alleging that confidential agreements between Amazon and the six largest U.S. publishers will destroy independent booksellers, according to a report in the Huffington Post.
The contracts, say the Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza in Albany, N.Y., Fiction Addiction in Greenville, S.C., and Posman Books in New York City, “restrain the trade and commerce in the market for e-books sold within the United States” by applying digital rights management software (DRM) to limit the use of the digital content to Amazon devices and apps.
The argument is essentially that because many ebooks are only available through Amazon and because Amazon controls such a high percentage of the U.S. ebook market and because Amazon DRM limits the the flow of digital content into and out of the Kindle ecosystem, independent bookstores have been unable to enter into the ebook market. The suit seeks to make it so that open-source and DRM-free ebooks can be read on the Kindle and other e-reading devices, a lawyer for the plaintiff told the Huffington Post.
If the bookstores manage to win the lawsuit, it would “completely reshape the ebook marketplace,” according to the Huffington Post.
In April of 2012, The six largest U.S. publishers, aside from Random House, were recently sued by the U.S. Department of Justice, which alleged that they colluded along with Apple to fix the prices of ebooks. Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster settled with the government immediately, resolving the lawsuit. Penguin, in advance of its merger with Random House, settled in Dec. Macmillan, the last holdout among the publishers, settled in Feb. 2013, citing the high financial risk associated with potentially losing in court.
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