back to article UK gov chews over Amazon Book Depository engulfment

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has invited members of the public to comment on Amazon's proposed acquisition of UK-based The Book Depository. "Anticipated acquisition by Inc. of The Book Depository International Limited – issued 5 July 2011," reads a notice on the OFT website. It then advises interested parties …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    What other (and this is a honest question) good UK on-line book sellers are there?

  2. gautam


    Book costing 4.99 now will cost 9.99. Thats all.

  3. Winkypop Silver badge


    .....why would customers want competition?

  4. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    The Book Depository


    1. Alfred

      They're actually pretty good

      You've missed out. Their stock is not so good as Amazon, but it's still pretty vast. As a general rule of thumb, they're significantly cheaper and they offer free delivery. To the world. That's right, free delivery to the world (although they don't manage to deliver everywhere - there are countries they cannot deliver to).

      They also have a charming habit of telling you the cost of the same book at amazon and at abebooks, depending on circumstances.

  5. Ian Farrell

    Not in customers best interests

    As a long term customer of both retailers I believe the competion between them is very important. The Book Depository has offered a free delivery option on purchases for some time and this is a much valued service appreciated by UK customers and by so many customers in territories where books are much more expensive (New Zealand for instance) or the choice is more restricted.

    Amazon delivery charges are expensive, particularly for overseas customers where Amazon has no local delivery outlet. A point acknowledged recently when they half heartedly offered free delivery using a convoluted and unfriendly option themselves.

    Although the Amazon buying experience is a lot slicker than the Book Depository and many retail prices offered by Amazon are slightly cheaper, the Book Depository free delivery option often represents far better overall value for money.

    The loss of the Book Depository will be a major loss of competition and not be in the interests of customers in the UK or overseas.

    1. lglethal Silver badge


      Sorry but that was far too rational an argument, it will never be considered by the OFT...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You do realise...

        that posting on El Reg doesn't count as making a submission to the OFT?

        If he doesn't submit it, OFT can't consider it- and that wouldn't the OFT's fault.

    2. stuartnz


      "Although the Amazon buying experience is a lot slicker than the Book Depository and many retail prices offered by Amazon are slightly cheaper, "

      Slicker how? Since buying a Kindle 3 last year, I've also been buying more dead tree books (as you rightly say, they are EXPENSIVE up here at the top of the world in Aotearoa), and all the ones I've bought have been through Book Depository. I've found their ordering process no slower or more convoluted than Amazon's (except for 1-click) and most importantly, not one of the books I bought through them was available cheaper on Amazon, even before shipping charges.

    3. kissingthecarpet

      A bit amazed

      One thing doing free p&p in the UK, but worldwide? If they don't just price their books higher accordingly, its hard to see how they make much profit on most books sent abroad.

    4. Fremma

      Not in NZ's best interest

      As Ian Farrell points out above, this is bad news for New Zealand and probably a lot of other countries. Our major high street book chain has just been bought out of bankruptcy caused, they say*, by competition from Amazon and TBD. Books are hideously expensive over here and, although the media seem only to have heard of Amazon, most of us use TBD due to the free shipping and wide stock range. We've never had it so good.

      Of course, I doubt whether this will be of any concern to OFT.

      *Most people outside Whitcoulls PR department say something similar but with different pronunciation e.g. "poor management".

  6. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  7. Thoguht Silver badge

    Not just pricing

    The thing that concerns me about this is not so much the pricing aspect, but that The Book Depository stocks vast numbers of out-of-print items that Amazon won't touch. Once Amazon buys them, I can't really see this no doubt low margin part of their business carrying on in the longer term.

    1. Alfred

      Print on demand

      To amplify on the subject of out of print, they founded their own press (Dodo) to reprint them. Which is just brilliant. I really get the feeling that the head bod actually likes books and likes selling books to people.

  8. Nagy, Balázs András

    Another one hits the dust

    Well, there goes the only cheap / affordable online book shop in my area. Amazon delivery rates are crazy, especially if you only want to buy $5-$10 books. Damnit.

  9. Alfred

    If they are being bought essentially to be shut down...

    Does anyone fancy starting a business with a website called something like There's clearly a viable business there.

  10. renella

    Amazon sharks confirm free market is a myth

    Great, I was boycottying amazon for censoring wikileaks (on cloud computing), and since last december I've only brought english books from the bookdepository. Now they are eliminating the only real alternative, for stocks and prices, for those who don't want to give money to amazon.

    They already have a 70%-strong market dominance (for books) in the uk only, and they are allowed to do mergers instead of splitting up? WTF is the anti-trust? Enjoy capitalism.

  11. cloudgazer

    this does seem odd

    What possible justification can Amazon have for this? They're an online retailer, it's not like they want to buy more stores to expand, anybody who wants to shop with them already can. They're the biggest bookseller in the world, it's not like they lack for scale. They're the biggest in the UK, it's not like they lack for brand recognition.

    This should absolutely be rejected.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm going to drop a quick note to the OFT

    so... anyone going to join me or will it be just more ineffectual griping here?

    1. renella


      I want to, but which is the correct webpage to comment on?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Click on the link in the article

        It gets you directly to <>

  13. rav

    free world wide delivery!!!!

    No wonder AMAZON wants to squash, whoops I meant buy Book Depository.

    Amazon fears an incursion into it's U.S. market or...........

    AMAZON lately has been the target of various U S states targeting AMAZON to collect Sales Tax from it's customers.

    One way to avoid charging and collecting this sales tax is to sell these books from the UK! Or some other international outlet.

    Or not. Maybe they are just greedy buggers and are eliminating competition.

  14. Thrudd


    Why not both reasons

    Firstly is to setup offshore to avoid the Tax sharks

    Eliminating a possible rival on the world stage is just an added bonus.

    I don't buy dead trees all that much anymore due to the local consolidation and conversion to the buy my books and get the hell out conglomerate.

    There is just one mass retailer here and amazon is the only other known web presnce

    Pricing is still stupid expensive compared to the US even though a significant % are printed on this side of the border.

    Now I will check these blokes out before the go the way of The Bay.

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