U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops declares war on Amazon’s “free” e-book store
A U.K.-based group of Catholic bishops on Monday declared war on the digital marketplace Amazon and its rival e-books company, Smashwords, which they called “monopolies” that “torture consumers.”
The bishops’ statement, published by the Bishops Conference of the United States, called Smashwords “a monopoly” that has “exacerbated the problem of poor access to the Catholic books market.”
It added: “The U.N. has warned that online retailers are a grave threat to consumers’ access to quality Catholic content.
It is the bishops duty to protect the vulnerable.”
The U and U. S. bishops joined in the declaration by the United Kingdom’s bishops and by some other U.A.E. countries, including the Netherlands, Sweden and Finland.
In the United Nations, the U.C.B.C., the UPA, and the European Parliament, the bishops have issued resolutions that call on governments to ban Amazon from selling e-readers, mobile devices and other digital goods.
The bishops are urging governments and businesses to “take swift and decisive action” to block Smashwords and other e-reader services from offering e-commerce, said the bishops’ declaration.
The declaration comes as Amazon continues to dominate the ebook market.
It has more than 10 million customers worldwide and operates two rival ebooks-based e-stores, Smashbooks and Audible.
Amazon also has its own Kindle e-reading platform.
In a letter to Amazon published by The Associated Press, the Catholic bishops warned that Amazon’s tactics, such as selling digital products through third-party stores, threaten to erode the integrity of the digital book market and that such practices are a threat to the survival of the Catholic Church.
“By promoting its own products, Amazon undermines the credibility of the Church,” the letter said.
“It has also sought to undermine the quality and relevance of Catholic content through its aggressive promotion of competing and sometimes even unauthorized online services.”
Amazon’s website says that Smashwords is “a company focused on the publication of high-quality, innovative and popular Catholic literature.
We believe that this has helped drive the market for quality Catholic texts and services.
As such, we offer a wide range of e-quality content for people of all ages and from all cultures, and have the resources to keep the marketplace healthy.”
Amazon has responded by saying it is “committed to offering a full range of products and services that are safe, easy to use, and best of all: free.”
The company has also said it will work with the bishops and the UCC to ensure the protection of the “privacy and security” of its customers.