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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Weekend Discussion: Amazon Pulls Yet Another Stunt

ETA 2 (Jan 31, 2010 2:46 PST) : Amazon caves to Macmillan's demands.

ETA: John Sargent's open response to Macmillan Authors, Illustrators, and literary agents.

This time at the expense of American publisher, Macmillan, and its imprints (e.g. Tor, Orb Books, etc...). Notably, authors such as John Scalzi, Emma Bull, and China MiƩville are among the many affected by this.

I was going to talk about something else for this weekend discussion.  The post was already scheduled, but I got wind of this via John Scalzi's blog and thought it was a much more appropriate topic of discussion--breaking news and everything.

Early Friday evening, people started noticing certain books were listed as "currently unavailable" on Amazon's website (albeit you can still purchase via 3rd party sellers) and the NY Times thinks it knows why.

Quoted from the article:
I’ve talked to a person in the industry with knowledge of the dispute who says the disappearance is the result of a disagreement between Amazon.com and book publishers that has been brewing for the last year. Macmillan, like other publishers, has asked Amazon to raise the price of electronic books from $9.99 to around $15. Amazon is expressing its strong disagreement by temporarily removing Macmillan books, said this person, who did not want to be quoted by name because of the sensitivity of the matter.
Does anyone else thinks this move hurts Amazon's reputation in light of their recent incident involving the removal of Orwell's 1984 from many Kindle-user libraries? Not to mention: consumers are just going to buy their Macmillan books elsewhere! Temporary move or not (if the above article is true), some consumers are impatient or have deadlines (birthdays are deadlines) and will give their money to a different bookseller.  There are many online bookstores to choose from (and brick and mortar stores); they also offer free shipping for spending $25 or more.

I shop from Amazon pretty regularly, but I am confused and unsure where I stand on this.  My initial reaction: irritation.  After I thought about it, true: Amazon is a business and I respect their resistance.  What I do not agree with is the resistive action of removing all Macmillan titles.  Why not just remove Macmillan e-books?  While aimed at pressuring the publisher, it remains unclear what the move will accomplish.

Again, this is all given that the article is true.

But what about you: What do you think of Amazon removing Macmillan titles from their website?

4 comments:

TJ said...

Not to mention the removal of "adult" (read: homosexual friendly) books from the search function a few months ago.

Altogether, I'm becoming less and less impressed with Amazon...

I'm keeping up with this situation.

Erika said...

@TJ: You're right! I had completely forgotten about that move. I think there's a lot going on that the public isn't privy to and I'm curious to see where this particular choice takes Amazon in the near future. :)

calico-reaction said...

Over the summer, I read about some disturbing practices regarding Amazon, and frankly, this latest incident cements the fact that they're bullies, and they're trying to hold on to the monopoly they started with Kindle. The problem too is that the reason they're being so inflexable with eBooks has nothing to do with the customer, but rather them wanting to keep eBook prices low so they can sell the Kindle. Frankly, this incident has made me SERIOUSLY rethink my patronage of Amazon, and I may start linking to the Book Depository in the future.

Erika said...

@calico: I do agree with you there--on the Kindle being behind this whole fiasco. As someone who doesn't read e-books (if I did, it would not be with a Kindle, I much prefer the Sony E-Reader) I'm really put off by this whole thing.

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