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A challlenge to Amazon at last?

9 March 2015

So what are the chances of the just-launched German online book retailer and e-reader, backed by bookstore chains Thalia, Weltbild and Hugendubel, Deutsche Telekom, and giant German publisher Bertelsmann providing a real challenge to Amazon?

On the face of it, it's much too late for anyone to head off Amazon, since its drive for world domination is well advanced. It has long since extended beyond books, its starting-point, into a plan to be the top online global retailer for a whole host of goods, now even including food. In the UK and the US there have been times when this hegemony looked like being challenged but in the UK the Office of Fair Trading and in the US the law courts have headed off this threat by leaning over backwards to protect Amazon's right to establish a near-monopoly. At least, that's how it looked to many observers.

Might Germany have a chance? It is a very bookish country, with a continuing liking for print books and a highly educated population making it one of the best book markets in the world. Fixed prices are still in place and although the world has changed mightily since this Publishing Perspectives article was published in 2011, Germany has probably changed less than most.

It will be interesting to see what happens.