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An Amazon warehouse outside Paris. Photo: Philippe Lopez /AFP via Getty Images

America's librarians are taking a feud with Amazon and other publishers to Congress as lawmakers investigate competition in digital markets.

Driving the news: The American Library Association said libraries are struggling to acquire ebooks because of an "abuse of market power by dominant firms," as part of a report for the House Judiciary Committee's digital markets investigation that was made public Thursday.

  • Titles from Amazon Publishing, the retailing giant's own publishing house, are not available to libraries at any price or terms, according to the report.
  • "That’s a basic digital divide problem," said Alan Inouye, ALA senior director of public policy and government relations. "The only people who can get access to their books are the people who can afford to buy them."
  • The report also takes aim at Macmillan Publishers, which is rolling out a new policy that will limit libraries to one copy of newly released ebooks, with an eight-week wait time before buying additional copies.
  • More broadly, the report accused digital publishers of "abusive pricing" of ebooks for libraries.

What's next: Inouye said he would like to see the committee investigate further and perhaps hold a hearing on the topic.

  • But Steve Potash, founder and CEO of library ebook and audiobook supplier OverDrive, said he's not sure there's a legislative fix. He says Amazon is treating libraries as if they are a competitive threat.
  • "Amazon is utilizing its commercial dominance to create a competition with our nation’s libraries," Potash said. "That’s who they’re competing with."
"When libraries feel like they’re not given an equal access to merchandise to promote and recommend what to read next, then they feel like it’s a challenge to their mission."
— Steve Potash
  • Amazon and Macmillan did not respond to requests for comment.

Go deeper

45 million Americans under winter storm watches near New England

Computer model projection showing the winds moving around the powerful East Coast storm on Saturday Jan. 29, 2022. Image: https://earth.nullschool.net

Nearly 45 million Americans are under winter weather alerts and warnings from North Carolina to northeastern Maine Thursday night, as a major winter storm threatens the region.

Why it matters: It is predicted to be the biggest blizzard since 2018 to strike the Northeast with more than 2 feet of snow possible in parts of eastern Massachusetts, according to the National Weather Service.

Judge nixes Gulf of Mexico oil leases in climate-focused ruling

Tug boats prepare to tow the semi-submersible drilling platform Noble Danny Adkins through the Port Aransas Channel into the Gulf of Mexico on December 12, 2020 in Port Aransas, Texas. Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

A federal judge on Thursday canceled the Biden administration's late 2021 sale of new oil-and-gas drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

Why it matters: The ruling that the greenhouse gas emissions analysis by the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) was insufficient is a win for green groups that challenged the decision, as they seek to curb fossil fuel production.

5 hours ago - World

Zelensky questions U.S. warnings of "imminent" invasion in Biden call

Biden and Zelensky at the White House last October. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty

President Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had a back-and-forth in their call this evening about just how "imminent" the threat of a Russian invasion might be, according to three sources briefed on the call.

Why it matters: Biden has said previously that he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin will probably "move in" to Ukraine, and White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday afternoon that "an invasion could come at any time."