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While Apple is taken to task for e-book antitrust violations, Amazon wields true monopolistic power


Last summer, Judge Denise Cote found that Apple colluded with publishers to artificially raise the price of e-books across the board. As a result, Cote imposed rules constraining Apple's ability to negotiate with book publishers while also appointing an external monitor tasked with ensuring Apple refrains from antitrust abuse in the future.

Indeed, the only winner in the Apple e-book saga appeared to be Amazon, despite Judge Cote's assertion that punishing Apple would restore competition to the e-book space. Recent negotiation tactics from Amazon, however, serve to highlight that the real company prone to wielding monopolistic power in the e-book space is Amazon.

The New York Times last week highlighted some of the discouraging antics Amazon has engaged in during the course of heated negotiations with Hachette book publishing. Taking drastic measures, Amazon has delayed delivery of some Hachette titles (in some cases from a few days to a few weeks) while removing others altogether from its online store.

Amazon, under fire in much of the literary community for energetically discouraging customers from buying books from the publisher Hachette, has abruptly escalated the battle.

The retailer began refusing orders late Thursday for coming Hachette books, including J.K. Rowling's new novel. The paperback edition of Brad Stone's "The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon" - a book Amazon disliked so much it denounced it - is suddenly listed as "unavailable."

In some cases, even the pages promoting the books have disappeared.

During the course of Apple's e-book trial, Apple stressed time and time again that the iBookstore provided consumers with more choice and operated to "break Amazon's monopolistic grip on the publishing industry."

While Amazon's power in the e-book space certainly doesn't give Apple a free pass to do whatever it wants, many have long questioned the DOJ's strategy of pursuing aggressive legal action against Apple when the real 800 pound gorilla in the e-book space is and has always been Amazon.

As writer John Moltz comically and snarkily wrote of Amazon's actions, "Time for more ebook sanctions against Apple."

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