Amazon and Apple end exclusive deal on audio books

Amazon distribution centreImage copyright
Reuters

Image caption

Amazon bought audio book supplier Audible in 2008

Apple and Amazon have ended a deal that tied them into an exclusive contract for the supply and sale of audio books.

The deal was signed before 2008 when Amazon bought audio book supplier Audible, which had the Apple iBooks contract.

Pressure from anti-trust regulators in Germany and the European Commission led to the deal being abandoned.

Competition in the audio book market should get a boost now the deal has ended, said regulators.

Fresh supply

The terms of the agreement meant Audible could not offer audio books to any other company and Apple had to take audio books only from Audible.

The investigation into the Apple-Amazon arrangement over audio books was started by the German Federal Cartel Office in late 2015. It responded to complaints from German publishers who said the two tech giants were abusing their market dominance.

In Germany, said the publishers, more than 90% of all downloads of audio books were done via the Apple iTunes store or through the Amazon and Audible websites.

With the deal abandoned, Audible will now be able to supply firms other than Apple with audio books. In addition, Apple can now get audio books from other sources and sign up other publishers who can push their titles through its iTunes and iBooks outlets.

In a statement, competition regulators at the European Commission said they “welcomed” the ending of the exclusivity contract.

“This step is likely to improve competition in downloadable audio book distribution in Europe,” said the statement.

The German Federal Cartel office said it had closed its investigation as a result of Apple and Amazon terminating the exclusive contract.

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