Amazon and Apple will now allow third-party audiobook sales in EU


In a statement given to The Verge, Audible confirmed that it had removed the exclusivity provision in its agreement with Apple, which means its audiobooks will now be available through third-party providers.

The European Commission had been looking into the exclusivity arrangement since it received a complaint from the German Publishers and Booksellers Association. It originally required Apple to source audiobooks exclusively from Audible, and prevented Audible from supplying audiobooks to digital music platforms other than the iTunes Store. Audible also basically invented the audiobook format and many publishers turn to the Amazon owned company to distribute their titles to the widest possible network.

"The European Commission welcomes an agreement to end all exclusivity obligations concerning audiobook supply and distribution between Amazon's subsidiary Audible and Apple", the EU competition authority said in a statement.

Amazon and Apple - and numerous other major United States tech companies - have found themselves in front of the European Commission (EC) a number of times over the past few years regarding accusations of unfairly dominated various markets.

"Audible and Apple hold a strong position with their offer of digital audiobooks in Germany".

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Apple and Amazon have agreed to cease all exclusivity obligations previously put in place between the two companies regarding the supply and distribution of audiobooks through iTunes and Audible (via Reuters).

At the time of the complaint in November 2015, Alexander Skipis, the head of the German Book Trade body, said: "The business model of Amazon and Audible is aimed at destroying the excellent book trade structure in Germany".

On Thursday, the German Federal Cartel Office said it has officially closed its investigation because "there was no further reason to continue".

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