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Amazon Faces Class Action Lawsuit for Alleged Audiobook Market Monopoly

 |  June 17, 2024

Amazon’s audiobooks business is under scrutiny as it faces a potential class action lawsuit accusing the retail giant of monopolizing the market and overcharging authors who do not exclusively use its platform for distributing their work.

The lawsuit, filed by author Christine DeMaio in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, alleges that Amazon is in violation of U.S. antitrust law. According to the complaint, the company employs exclusivity agreements to “lock up” content, which restricts competitors from offering works from the same authors. This practice, the lawsuit claims, significantly impacts billions of dollars in audiobook sales.

At the heart of the complaint is the assertion that Amazon imposes higher distribution fees on authors who list their audiobooks on other sites. Authors who distribute their audiobooks exclusively through Amazon face a distribution fee of 60% on sales, while those who also list their work on other platforms are charged a higher fee of 75%.

Read more: Investors Take Legal Action Against Amazon Over Anticompetitive Behavior

DeMaio’s lawsuit seeks more than $5 million in damages and aims to achieve class action status for all impacted authors and rights holders who have incurred these higher fees. The suit underscores the potential financial strain on authors who choose not to enter exclusive agreements with Amazon, thereby reducing their ability to distribute their work widely without incurring steep penalties.

This legal challenge brings to light ongoing concerns about market practices within the rapidly growing audiobook industry, where Amazon is a dominant player through its Audible subsidiary. The outcome of this case could have significant implications for authors, publishers and the competitive landscape of the audiobook market.

Amazon has yet to comment on the pending litigation.

Background on the Case:

  • Plaintiff: Christine DeMaio
  • Defendant: Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN)
  • Court: U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington
  • Allegations: Violation of U.S. antitrust law, monopolization of the audiobook market, overcharging distribution fees for non-exclusive listings
  • Damages Sought: Over $5 million
  • Class Action Status: Sought for impacted authors and rights holders

Source: Reuters