Sci-tech

Apple and Amazon end decade-long audiobook exclusivity deal

Apple and Amazon end decade-long audiobook exclusivity deal

"The removal of these exclusivity obligations will allow for further competition in a fast-growing and innovative market and allow European consumers broader access to downloadable audiobooks", it said in a statement. Germany's Bundeskartellamt [press releases] also welcomed the agreement.

At the time, around 90 percent of all audiobook downloads in Germany were made via Audible or Amazon websites, or via the iTunes Store, indicating why publishers and booksellers had chose to complain.

The agreement had been in place for over a decade, since 2003, but came to an end earlier this month following complaints from German publishers and investigations by European antitrust regulators, who were concerned that the agreement was stifling competition and raising prices.

In Germany, said the publishers, more than 90% of all downloads of audio books were done via the Apple iTunes store or through the Amazon and Audible websites. "These companies are avowedly on the way to establish a monopoly".

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In addition, the agreement will allow Apple to source audiobooks from new suppliers and will allow publishers to enter into distributions agreements directly with Apple, the Commission said. "After conducting intensive market investigations and due to the close cooperation with the European Commission in this case, the Bundeskartellamt was able to close these proceedings without a formal decision".

Neither Audible nor Apple immediately responded to a request for comment.

In a statement given to The Verge, Audible confirmed that it had removed the exclusivity provision in its agreement with Apple, which means its audiobooks will now be available through third-party providers.

Similarly, the German cartel office's president Andreas Mundt said that with the deletion of the exclusivity agreement Apple "will enable a wider range of offer and lower prices for consumers".


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