How Amazon transformed the EU into a planned economy

Monopsony, junk fees and market power.

Cory Doctorow


A desert ruin. In the foreground is a huge Amazon box, with an EU flag in place of its shipping label. Atop the box are the feet and partial legs of an Oxymandias figure. Image: Rama (modified) CC BY-SA 3.0

Amazon is a perfect parable of enshittification, the process by which platforms first offer subsidies to end users until they’re locked in, then make life good for business customers at users’ expense, until they’re locked in, then claw back all the value they can for themselves, leaving just enough behind to keep the lock-in going.

In a new report for SOMO, Margarida Silva describes how the end-stage enshittification of Amazon is playing out in the EU, with Amazon repeating its US playbook of gouging the small businesses who have no choice but to use the platform in order to reach its locked-in customers, making European customers and European sellers poorer:

The mechanism for this isn’t a mystery. Amazon boasts about it! They call it their flywheel: first, customers are lured into the platform with low prices, especially through Prime, which requires pre-payment for a year’s shipping, which virtually guarantees that customers will start their shopping on Amazon. Because customers now start their buying on Amazon, sellers have to be there. The increased range of goods for sale on Amazon lures in more buyers, who lure in more sellers, with both sides holding each other…