Friday, March 28, 2008

Amazon's New Policy on POD Books

Yesterday, Writers Weekly reported in their online blog here:

BREAKING DEVELOPMENT: We were notified by a PublishAmerica author that her book was available for purchase through Amazon on Tuesday but today the "buy" button for her book on Amazon is gone. We researched some other PublishAmerica books and it appears the "buy" button on Amazon has indeed been removed from the vast majority of their book pages.

In today's Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg says: Inc., flexing its muscles as a major book retailer, notified publishers who print books on demand that they will have to use its on-demand printing facilities if they want their books directly sold on Amazon's Web site.

The move signals that Amazon is intent on using its position as the premier online bookseller to strengthen its presence in other phases of bookselling and manufacturing. Amazon is one of the biggest booksellers in the U.S., with a market share publishing experts estimate to be about 15%. Amazon doesn't comment on sales.

Today's Shelf Awareness quotes the WSJ saying:

"Amazon 'has evolved into a fully vertical book publishing and retail operation. Most recently, Amazon acquired audiobook seller Audible Inc. Amazon also sells its own ebook reader called the Kindle'.

Publishers will have to use Amazon's BookSurge POD subsidiary. Among competitors are Ingram's Lightning Source and"

This morning's Publishers Lunch reports:

There are no accounts yet of the policy being imposed on traditional publishers that also use Lightning Source or other print-on-demand vendors; by the current accounts the moved is aimed at independent publishers whose focus is POD books as well as self-publishing competitors to Booksurge such as (Separately, Amazon has been working since mid-2006 to get mainstream publishers to use Booksurge for print-on-demand books sold through the e-tailer, for traditional purposes--out of print books; large print; etc.--as well as to fulfill "demand spikes" when a regular title is temporarily out of stock.) Ingram and their Lightning Source operation have worked closely with Amazon in the past in a variety of ways, including packing orders with Amazon packages and labels.

It will be interesting to see where this goes next. My first thought was that someone would be suing Amazon for interfering with free trade. The Washington Post says this: . . . which has brushes with monopolistic tendencies before, is doing just that, this time in the print-on-demand business, where it is asking such publishers that they will have to use its on-demand printing facilities if they want their books directly sold on Amazon's website. POD is a growing business online, especially in the academic books market, where it has been embraced by more than half of the country's university presses . . .

Stay tuned . . .

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