Two US-based book publishing organisations have voiced strong opposition to Amazon’s plans to launch the .book, .author and .read top level domains, arguing that the online retailer’s influence would be anti-competitive.
“Placing such generic domains in private hands is plainly anticompetitive, allowing already dominant, well-capitalised companies to expand and entrench their market power,” wrote Authors Guild President Scott Turow in his submission to ICANN opposing Amazon’s application. “The potential for abuse seems limitless.”
Opposition has also come from rival bookseller Barnes & Noble, who said in their submission that Amazon “should not be allowed to control the Book TLDs, which would enable them to control generic industry terms in a closed fashion with disastrous consequences not only for bookselling but for the American public. If Amazon, which controls approximately 60% of the market for eBooks and 25% of the physical book market, were granted the exclusive use of .book, .read and .author, Amazon would use the control of these TLDs to stifle competition in the bookselling and publishing industries, which are critical to the future of copyrighted expression in the United States.”
“Amazon’s ownership would also threaten the openness and freedom of the internet and would have harmful consequences for internet users worldwide.”
Barnes & Noble also note that in the Applicant Guidebook, “ICANN states that ‘one of its key responsibilities is introducing and promoting competition in the registration of domain names.'”
“However, Amazon disregarded the guidance of ICANN and instead filed new TLD applications for generic terms in the very industries in which it holds significant market share, with the stated goal of controlling those TLDs – including .book, .read and .author – as closed registries. The concerns are especially acute in the bookselling industry, where Amazon already maintains a dominant position.”
Barnes & Noble also note “by controlling the Book TLDs, Amazon will be positioned to gain unfair advantage in direct navigation and online search; will become associated with the very genus of books; and will likely control the generic Book TLDs in perpetuity as the registry agreements permit unlimited automatic renewal in ten-year terms. Additionally, Amazon will likely be able to prevent substantially similar TLDs from registering in the future, such as .books.”