While the spread of Amazon’s published book exposure is under threat through the boycott of Amazon spearheaded by Barnes & Nobles last month, Amazon digital book catalog’s wealth is increasingly threatened by publishers’ disappointment at the conditions Amazon is trying to force on them for the privilege of appearing on its shelves.
Last week, the distributor Independent Publishers Group (IPG) refused to capitulate to Amazon’s terms to renew their agreement. As a result, the buy button under the 5000 IPG digital books, from around 400 publishers, available on Amazon was turned off. The print versions are still available, though one would assume that Amazon’s persistence in demanding obedience to increasingly unfavorable conditions for publishers might lead to the print books removal in the next round. IPG is not the first publisher to be removed from Amazon shelves following a dispute over terms. over book pricing involving Amazon. In 2010, Amazon temporarily stopped selling MacMillan’s titles, refusing to price titles any higher than the online book retailer’s $9.99 standard. It was not known if MacMillan offered any concessions to Amazon to get the buy buttons restored.
As IPG is US second largest independent book distributor, from a strategic point of view, Amazon is now fighting the publishing war on at least two fronts. On one hand, distribution of its own publishing arm is under threat from the boycott and on the second hand, its catalog’s wealth is now being attacked.
The reduce exposure of its own published book might have been ignored as the unequaled size of Amazon’s catalog would ensure that buyers would continue to flock in Amazon online bookshop to enjoy the comfort of finding everything in one place. Yet, if Amazon’s conditions for publishers causes them to leave, Amazon will gradually loose this strategic advantage and because less resilient to boycott attacks.
According to paid.Content.corg IPG President Mark Suchomel sent the following memo to his client publishers:
Memo from IPG president Mark Suchomel to client publishers
I am disappointed to report that Amazon.com has failed to renew its agreement with IPG to sell Kindle titles. As of today, the Amazon.com website no longer offers for sale any electronic titles from any of IPG’s client publishers. All print editions are still available, as always.
As has been publicly reported, Amazon.com is putting pressure on publishers and distributors to change their terms for electronic and print books to be more favorable toward Amazon. Our electronic book agreement recently came up for renewal, and Amazon took the opportunity to propose new terms for electronic and print purchases that would have substantially changed your revenue from the sale of both. It’s obvious that publishers can’t continue to agree to terms that increasingly reduce already narrow margins. I have spoken directly with many of our clients and every one of them agrees that we need to hold firm with the terms we now offer. I’m not sure what has changed at Amazon over the last few months that they now find it unacceptable to buy from IPG at terms that are acceptable to our other customers. Hopefully Amazon will change their stance, but for now we need to make some changes. Please consider taking the following action today, or as soon as practically possible:
1. Every e-mail, ad, website, press release, author interview, and otherwise mention of an individual title needs to include the following: This book is available in print or electronic edition at your local independent bookshop, www.BarnesandNoble.com,www.indiebound.org, iTunes, Kobo, and elsewhere. It is not currently available in a Kindle edition.
2. Inform your authors of the situation and ask them to encourage traffic to those places that carry both print and electronic editions. Our website, www.ipgbook.com, is able to take direct consumer orders, but there is no better way to show our valued customers how much we appreciate doing business with them than to send orders their way.
3. Make available all electronic titles in all versions other than Kindle. Get those last remaining titles into electronic format so that the businesses that do support your titles can start selling them as soon as possible. IPG’s digital team can help you. Contact Digital Content Manager [redacted], for details.
4. Remind family and friends of the value to our society of independent voices and ideas, and that independent publishers and bookstores need to be supported or they will go away.
5. Practice what you preach. Support accounts that support your business. Ask the organizations you support to do the same.
6. Tell your local booksellers that they have access to some electronic books that Amazon no longer does. Accounts can contact Digital Content Manager [redacted], or Trade Sales Manager [redacted].
7. Seriously consider the implications of this action for the long run. If we don’t hold firm on your behalf, your margins will continue to erode. IPG will continue to represent you well to those customers that are happy to buy from us at reasonable terms. If you or your authors were working directly with any large vendor, you would not have the opportunity to push back on or even have a conversation about terms. Your continued support is appreciated.
8. If anyone from Amazon calls you, please let them know that you are distributed by and contractually tied to IPG.
Remember that Amazon continues to be an important account that sells a lot of units. This is a business decision on Amazon’s part, and hopefully they will soon decide to reverse it and buy at our standard terms. IPG will be informing our other electronic book accounts of their favorable competitive position on our electronic titles.
Is he opening a new salvo against the online book retailer giant? Will other publishers join the movement? Time will tell …