Amazon is in talks with European Union regulators to settle the antitrust probe begun last year into whether the company's e-book contracts harm other retailers, publishers and consumers. Citing "people familiar with the case," Bloomberg Technology made the original report yesterday, which was followed up by other media.
In a separate case, Amazon is under investigation for its 2003 tax deal with Luxembourg allowing it to pay much lower taxes on European operations that otherwise expected. The EU's antitrust office has issued a preliminary ruling that called the deal "unfair state aid."
The terms at issue in the e-book case involve "most favored nation" clauses--stipulations in Amazon's contracts with publishers that they tell Amazon about contracts with other retailers and offer Amazon equal or better terms. The investigation has focused on English-language and German-language e-book markets. The case got its start in 2014, when the Börsenverein--the German book trade association--filed a complaint about several of Amazon's business practices with the German antitrust office, a complaint that resonated with the EU.
Amazon has launched Prime Reading, which allows Prime customers in the U.S. to "read as much as they like from a selection of over a thousand top Kindle books, magazines, short works, comic books, children's books and more" for free, the company said.
The Kindle titles include The Hobbit, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, The Man in the High Castle, The Millionaire Next Door, Half Way Home and When I'm Gone, comics such as The Complete Peanuts Vol. 1 and Transformers: Robots in Disguise Vol. 1 as well as Kindle Singles from Andy Borowitz, Stephen King, Jane Hirshfield and works by Gloria Steinem, Norman Mailer and Kurt Vonnegut.
Prime membership, which costs $99 a year, also includes unlimited access to short-form episodic Audible Channels for Prime, as well as a rotating selection of audio books from Audible and one free pre-publication book a month with Kindle First.