By Karen Holt
It seems like 2010 all over again this week, as Amazon.com has once more banished thousands of e-books from its site. This time, the books are titles distributed by Independent Publishers Group (IPG), whose president, Mark Suchomel, informed its publishing clients of the move via an email alert sent on Tuesday, February 21st. The story was picked up the next day by Publishers Marketplace.
“Amazon.com is putting pressure on publishers and distributors to change their terms for electronic and print books to be more favorable toward Amazon,” Suchomel wrote. “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.”
Full text of the letter is available here.
Amazon continues to sell print versions of books distributed by IPG. Still, Amazon’s latest move calls to mind the incident two years ago when the online bookseller removed the buy buttons for Macmillan’s titles in all formats, in an attempt to prevent the publisher from selling e-books under the agency model. Following widespread pressure, Amazon backed down and, soon enough, the agency model became the industry standard.
Last week, we outlined Amazon’s history of anti-competitive tactics in the e-book market. Ironically, it’s Amazon’s competitors that stand to benefit from this latest dispute, at least in the short term. Suchomel has urged IPG clients to spread the word about accounts that do sell e-book versions of their titles, saying, "There is no better way to show our valued customers how much we appreciate doing business with them than to send orders their way."
Karen Holt is a freelance writer and editor. She lives in Stamford, Connecticut.