NYT: “Amazon Pulls Thousands of E-Books in Dispute”

NYT: “Amazon Pulls Thousands of E-Books in Dispute”

Is Amazon getting to the point where it can say, “Publishers, we don’t need your e-books”?

Generally, when Amazon has disputed with a publisher, the publisher has won. That was true on the Agency Model, it was true on text-to-speech.

Now, though, Amazon has told the Independent Publishers Group that if IPG doesn’t agree to Amazon’s terms, Amazon won’t carry their e-books.

In the short term, I don’t like that (as a reader). Amazon used to say that a goal was for the Kindle to bring us “Every book ever published…”

Obviously, they can’t do that if they refuse to carry books.

On the other hand, what if the only way for Amazon to do that profitably is to charge $15 for some e-books? They already do that…what about $25? $50?

Is it better for readers in the long term for Amazon to force prices down by getting better terms?

Maybe…

I do think Amazon certainly has the right to only get books under the conditions they want. As a former store manager, I know that’s part of the process.

As a reader, I want to be able to make the decision about getting any book…even if it does cost more.

As you can tell, I’m kind of torn on this one. My emotional, short term, gut reaction is I want the books to be in the store. My analytical, long term, logical mind wants publishers to have a check and balance on them.

What do you think about this one? Feel free to let me know…

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

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11 Responses to “NYT: “Amazon Pulls Thousands of E-Books in Dispute””

  1. homeward bound Says:

    For me personally, it’s not simply a matter of buying a Kindle eBook. My sequence tends to go:
    1. I’ve read some reviews or I know the book… do I want to own it?
    2. Do I need to own it, or perhaps might I borrow it from the library (or prime lending?)
    3. If I decide to own it, then I check prices: a.) Kindle/Digital, b.) printed (paper- and/or hardback), Amazon market place.

    Some books I really prefer to have on my Kindle, others I really want to have on my shelf after reading the book.

    My bottom line is that I simply won’t swallow some of the gagging prices. I refuse, even if I have to wait for library loans or marketplace availability.

    Wars, wars, wars… and here’s just another war having at least a part of capitulated-to greed. I bought a Kindle. I did not buy a ticket for a draft lottery in a disgusting war I didn’t ask for and refuse to be sucked into.

    Love my Kindle, but there are limits…

    HB

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, homeward!

      Well, it may be worth noting that Amazon will be carrying the paperbooks of these titles. That negotiation hasn’t changed.

      IN your case, since you say would wait for a lower price, this is probably a good thing…that’s possibly going to be the upshot of this, if Amazon carries the e-books again eventually.

  2. Common Sense Says:

    I understand why Amazon is doing this, it’s just good business to get the best deal you can with a vendor, why should ebooks be any different?

    It’s really the publisher’s fault to begin with. If they published DRM-free books, Kindle users could get their ebooks anywhere, giving Amazon far more competition. If they weren’t in the correct format, they could be easily converted. But the false piracy fears of authors and publishers prevents that.

    For me personally, I guess it’s not that big a deal since I probably won’t be buying their books anyway. I converted to the indie market when the agency model was adopted by the Big 6, so, unless they have a special sale and offer books for less than $5, I don’t buy their books.

    I also have over 5,000 ebooks on my account so if every publisher suddenly quit publishing and every author suddenly quit writing, I could still read for the rest of my life. Perhaps they should all consider that.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Common!

      I have to say, it was a bit odd to me that this was as big a story as it was.

      Every retailer makes decisions about what to carry based on the terms. Amazon tried to fight the Agency Model, and they lost that one. Amazon is still carrying this company’s books…just not in e-books, because they weren’t able to come to an agreement on terms.

      Terms change…that’s part of business.

      Let’s say somebody walked into a 7-11 and a Pepsi was ten dollars. That could easily happen, if the retailer didn’t negotiate their side of it.

      If the deal Amazon was offering is really unfair, nobody will take it (not just this one), and Amazon will have to adapt or give up on that part of the business.

      I do think that Amazon not caving on this one may be good in the long run…but I want all the books available to me. ;)

  3. Dave Says:

    As a consumer I appreciate Amazon fighting for us in regards to pricing. I feel like they really got sideswiped by the Agency Model, and it happened before they had the Kindle saturation that they do now and could really flex their muscles. In the future I think we will see them play even tougher with publishers, especially since they’ve become one themselves and pay the best royalty rates in the business. I’m sure that could also be seen as Amazon being a bully, but again, as someone who doesn’t enjoy paying $12.99-$14.99 for an e-book, I’m all for them working on my behalf to keep prices down.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Dave!

      I understand. :) It would be nice if everybody could always come to an agreement, but that just isn’t realistic.

  4. Edward Boyhan Says:

    My initial reaction to this was to not get too worked up over what is essentially a business negotiation. IPG wanted to renew their agreement with Amazon at the same terms as previously. Amazon wanted a better deal.

    As you alluded: the throw weight in the publishing business is changing. Every move that Amazon is making from their own publishing ventures, KDP, KOLL, etc can all be visualized as long term efforts to flow more and more “book” content through Amazon. It doesn’t matter where it comes from: Amazon’s sources, small independents, or big6 publishers: if a large fraction of the distribution flows through Amazon (even if it’s not a majority fraction — avoids monopoly issues, that), then Amazon starts to have significant market power. The IPG thing is probably Amazon just trying some things on. But even if only 10-15% of a big6’s total distribution flows through Amazon, a threat to “not carry” could throw a modestly profitable business into a dead loss.

    At some point Amazon will be in the position to say to the big6: drop agency pricing, or I won’t carry your stuff (neither print nor ebooks). This is a long term strategy, and getting rid of agency pricing is only the first step.

    Ebooks already open the world to a host of titles from unknowns at prices under $3.99. I buy a lot of my “trash” reading from those sources. I find myself unwilling to pay big6 prices save if it’s an especially favorite author. And judging from the large volume of discussions over in the Amazon community devoted to free and low-priced titles, I would say that there’s a large fraction of the reading public that cares about price a lot more than an author’s reputation.

    As I’ve said many times before the traditional publishers are in a very difficult situation. This event just represents the latest turn in a screw that has many turns to go yet.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      Good points.

      It’s worth noting that the Big 6 can also be played against each other. If that ten percent you mention is the difference between one publisher and another, it becomes more significant. A publisher has to weigh not just how many, but what kind of customers are being reached/not reached.

      The Big 6 need to say: “What do I offer that the indies don’t?” and capitalize on that…

  5. Man in the Middle Says:

    I’m with Common Sense and Dave. If an Ebook is suggested to me that costs over $3 these days, I rarely even click through to the full description. Why should I when I’m notified about several good temporarily-free books each day? If that stream dries up (and I’m sure it eventually will) there are already enough good books on my Kindle to last until age 100.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Man!

      Yes, it’s interesting…as the price of books come down, are we becoming less choosy? Supply is increasing…that changes the nature of the demand.

  6. Independent Publishers Group books returning to the Kindle store « I Love My Kindle Says:

    [...] in February, I reported about thousands of e-books distributed by IPG (Independent Publishers Group) being pulled from the [...]

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