Bullish German book industry 'unafraid' of Amazon

FRANKFURT, GERMANY- Germany's book industry is ready to face down competition from online retail giant Amazon, its head said Tuesday, amid scrutiny of the US company's tax dealings, pricing disputes and market dominance.
Ahead of the opening of the biggest international book fair in Frankfurt later Tuesday, Heinrich Riethmueller said booksellers in Europe's top economy felt confident about online and over-the-counter business.

Amazon has been a hot topic in German publishing in the last year over its working conditions and tax dealings, as well as an e-book price war with Scandinavian publishing house Bonnier, a major player in the German sector, Riethmueller said.
And on Tuesday European Union anti-trust regulators opened a probe into Amazon's tax arrangements with Luxembourg on the grounds that the deals may amount to illegal state aid.
"I can say, quite clearly, the German book trade is not afraid of Amazon," Riethmueller, president of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association, told reporters.
"We are self confident. We've learnt a great deal on that in the last years. Twenty years ago the book trade was the first branch that directly dealt with online commerce.
"And we have done our homework and meanwhile can do both online and offline," he said, adding online business was estimated to account for about 16 percent of the German book market, of which 50 to 70 percent are Amazon sales.
In August more than 1,000 German-language writers signed a petition protesting against the methods used by Amazon in its e-book price battle with Bonnier.
The authors have have accused Amazon of delaying the release of books and boycotting authors signed to publishing houses in dispute with the US company.
They took their cue from US writers involved in a similar protest over Amazon's e-book dispute with Hachette publishing house.
The five-day Frankfurt book fair is expected to draw more than 7,000 exhibitors from around the world to the western German city.

Tuesday, October 7th 2014

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