US e-commerce giant Amazon is facing a proposed class action lawsuit for allegedly monopolising the retail market for audiobooks.  

The lawsuit claims that this has resulted in authors overpaying for the distribution of their works.  

Author Christine DeMaio, who publishes under the name CD Reiss, filed the lawsuit in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington, asserting that Amazon’s practices violate US antitrust law. 

The lawsuit details that for exclusive distribution, Amazon charges authors such as Reiss at least 60% of the sale price, which is set by the platform.  

For non-exclusive titles, the fee increases to at least 75% of the purchase price.  

Despite these terms, Reiss has been distributing her audiobooks through Amazon for the past four years, both exclusively and non-exclusively, depending on the title. 

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According to the complaint cited by Reuters, Amazon’s use of exclusivity agreements has been a strategy to “lock up content,” hindering the ability of competitors to challenge the e-commerce giant and impacting billions of dollars in audiobook sales.  

Steve Berman, the plaintiff’s attorney, stated: “Authors deserved a fair price for their work and not to be the victims of Amazon’s abusive monopoly practices.” 

Amazon’s acquisition of Audible in 2008 for approximately $300m has positioned Audible as the largest audiobook retailer globally, commanding more than 60% of domestic purchases, while Apple holds about 20%. 

The legal action seeks damages exceeding $5m and class action status for thousands of authors and rights holders who have paid Amazon a distribution fee of at least 60% on sales.  

The complaint emphasises that this fee escalates to 75% for “non-exclusive” audiobooks available on Amazon and other platforms.  

Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, the law firm representing the plaintiff, is also leading a consumer antitrust lawsuit accusing Amazon of artificially inflating the price of e-books.