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June 22, 2011


Michael Herrmann

The point is, independent bookstores are not trying to save themselves by refusing to carry the Amazon imprints. They're trying to save their industry--specifically, the publishers, and the benefits they provide to readers which Amazon will not.

Amazon has proven time and time again that they want to control every arena they enter 100%. They are a cancer on the industry. We aren't anti-industry when we try to beat the cancer.


Here it is in a nutshell:


Perhaps worst of all, Amazon clearly doesn't care what its customers think (despite thanking them in the blog post) because it acted to axe Macmillan's texts without explaining why or giving any warning. And though it tries to portray itself as championing customer rights, what its actually doing is trying to manipulate an entire industry to working how it wants everything to work, squeezing everybody from authors to other booksellers.

Jacquelyn Wheeler

Amazon books just aren't as good. I work for a publisher right now and I have seen the books we print compared to the books they print for us. It's ridiculous. Ours look way better, only cost a couple of dollars more, and the author gets twice as much money from the sale.


As a consumer, I agree with Dave. His story is my story as well.

You raise the spector of censorship accusing Amazon of this. Technically it isn't - censorship is generally defined as being a governmental ban. But I fail to see how what you are doing is any different than what Amazon is doing.


Like many bookstore owners around the country, I recently received a package of review copies of Amazon's mysteries and I promptly threw them away. While I share many of JB's feelings, I won't support AZ as a publisher (e.g. a manufacturer) of books because the company violates the key principles of retailer-manufacturer relations.

Manufacturing and retailing are symbiotic. Manufacturers think up new products but it is the retailers who develop local markets for them and deliver them to the final customer.

All manufacturers COULD sell their products very cheaply to the public (they could sell at wholesale prices and still make a profit). But they don't. Why? Because why would I, as a retailer, support a manufacturer who offers to sell direct to the public at the same price as the mfgr sells to me? I obviously can't compete with that and selling that manufacturer's products undercuts my business - I'm spending $$ to market their product and to create demand for the product and the manufacturer steps in and takes advantage of that product demand that I (and other retailers) have created and steals our customer. No retailer will stand for that.

Other than Amazon books, I challenge anyone to look around where they are sitting and find a single product in their field of vision that can be bought direct from the manufacturer for less than full retail. You won't be able to do it because any manufacturer who did would find themselves without a retail outlet very quickly.

AZ is different because they started in retail. But the idea is the same. AZ is selling their own books online to customers for less than the wholesale price. In fact, if I wanted to order their books, it would be cheaper for me to order from AZ at retail. So no, I will not support Amazon's efforts as a manufacturer to undercut me as a retailer.

Has anyone else noticed that the Kindle, where available in retail stores, is the exact same price as on Amazon. If AZ can sell the Kindle wholesale to Target, why doesn't it sell the Kindle for that same lower wholesale price to its online customers? Simple, there's no way Target would buy from AZ unless the price in the store and direct from the manufacturer were the same.

And presumably, AZ, as a manufacturer, doesn't want its Kindle retailers to sell the Kindle for less (AZ always has to be cheapest, right?). That's why Kindles never go on sale at Target. As a manufacturer, Amazon wants to control the retail price. Just like any other manufacturer.

T Anderson

Former publisher here. Amazon's policies were not only aggressive but unsustainable. They insisted on the right to sell our books for less than cost. Their accounting was less than satisfactory. Their listings were constantly being changed to incorrect information, and we had to keep fixing them. They tried to bully us into discounts that were way above standard - and we had to bear the cost of shipping. And it is the very anti-combines laws that are supposed to protect consumers that prevented publishers from saying "No - this is unethical and we all agree not to play this game." Have I ever bought books on Amazon? Yes - only if the book I need cannot be found anywhere else. But usually I can find what I need through my local independents (if current) or through Alibris or one of the resale sites. This is not about refusal too change models; most people would agree the former model must change. It is about unethical business practices. Authors cannot expect the respect and support of bookstores or traditional publishers if the authors choose to side with the bully.


As a retired New York publisher who decided to open an indpendent bookstore to keep myself out of trouble in my dotage, I find myself taking a more pragmatic view. Amazon built its business on treating books as a loss leader to build its online marketshare. Beneath its consumer-uber-alles exterior lies the beating heart and soul of a monopolist and its relationship to the publishing supply chain of editors, publishers, retailers fundamentally has been predatory in nature. BUT it cannot maintain that worldview as a legitimate publisher. Welcome to our world, Mr. Bezos. Now you are about to enter the great casino that is book publishing, and if you think that your algorithms are going to help you make better editorial acquisition decisions, good luck. You are about to find out that publishing remains more art than science and built the hard way, upon relationships. Failure for your fledgling publishing operation is very much a possibility as you become truly exposed, for the first time, to the serendipity that is book publishing.

So if you want we indies to act as your showcase and handsellers, then you better come calling with your checkbook. That translates into more generous discounts, sweeter credit terms, and promotional allowances (to help us build our own online presence) that we will be able to leverage with our other publishing suppliers.

I look forward to your call.

Beth D.

Wolfgang, this has nothing to do with self published "indie" writers. JB is attacking published authors (and thinking he's hurting Amazon) whose books are released by Amazon Publishing, not people who upload their unpublished manuscripts onto the internet.

Big difference.


The fact that anyone would think a bookstore ought to stage an event to promote an Amazon product is truly astonishing. Amazon has destroyed the book business as we knew it. Although access to the Amazon database/display function may appear at first glance to be a boon for authors, the fact that a website has replaced bookstores for so many readers has spelled the death of browsing. For unknown or "mid-list" authors this is especially damaging.


To those going to great lengths to justify your patronage of Amazon: save your breath! Nobody is questioning that it offers a vast array of stock at very low prices and then delivers your purchases to your front door. In fact, you don't even have to leave your house!

Those of us that side with Mr Dickey in this debate, and against Amazon generally, are merely asking you to look ahead a few years. Like any business small or large, Amazon seeks profit and growth at the expense of its competitors, and its ultimate goal must surely be a bookselling monopoly. Now, with its move into publishing, there is a distinct possibility that the time will come when the only place left to buy books is Amazon, and the only books being promoted there are ones published by Amazon.

If this sounds like an appealing state of affairs, by all means let your local bookseller die. But rest assured, Amazon's seductive discounts will be a thing of the past once the competition has been crushed, as will its favourable treatment of its authors...

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