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Tired of expensive Kindle books? You're not the only one...

Amazon have become the latest tech giant to be targeted by crusading EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

ONLINE RETAIL GIANT Amazon has become the latest tech giant to attract the attentions of the EU’s Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

An official European Commission (EC) antitrust investigation into Amazon’s e-book business has been instigated.

This revolves around certain clauses installed in the US retailer’s contracts that require book publishers to inform Amazon about deals they may have with its rivals, thus hampering those rivals’ ability to compete.

“Amazon has developed a successful business that offers consumers a comprehensive service, including for e-books – our investigation does not call that into question,” Vestager said today in a statement.

Belgium EU Commissioner Hearing Margrethe Vestager Source: AP/Press Association Images

However, it is my duty to make sure that Amazon’s arrangements with publishers are not harmful to consumers, by preventing other e-book distributors from innovating and competing effectively with Amazon.
Our investigation will show if such concerns are justified.

Amazon is currently the largest distributor of e-books in Europe via its Kindle service.

This is not the first time that the EC has investigated the e-books sector.  In December 2011 the Commission opened proceedings against Apple and five major publishing houses for allegedly colluding to limit price competition for e-books.

This led to commitments from the various companies which addressed those concerns.

Vestager herself is gaining a reputation as the scourge of enormous companies.

In the last two months alone, she has announced war on geo-blocking (the practice of making online content exclusive within countries via IP address), accused Google of abusing its status in corporate competition, and threatened fines of €10 billion for Russian energy behemoth Gazprom for similarly abusing anti-trust laws.

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A lady who likes a challenge obviously.

Amazon in UK sales switch Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

She has been accused of specifically targeting American businesses although she denied this in an interview with the BBC earlier this month.

The news is another headache for Amazon however, which has endured a tough couple of months.

In May the company officially set up a UK office (despite already employing 6,000 employees there) so as to process sales (and therefore taxes) through that jurisdiction rather than Luxembourg as was previously the case.

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