I’m a little late on this, but it’s been a crazy week! I want to talk about Amazon. The online retail giant has been allowing authors to self publish their books for years, but just recently began signing its own authors. Since becoming a traditional publisher in October 2011, Amazon’s business practices have made other booksellers increasingly nervous. Three days ago, Barnes & Noble took action against Amazon.
On Feb. 1, Barnes & Noble announced it will no longer stock titles published by Amazon in its bookstores. According to B&N Chief Merchandising Officer Jaime Carey,
“Barnes & Noble has made a decision not to stock Amazon published titles in our store showrooms. Our decision is based on Amazon’s continued push for exclusivity with publishers, agents and the authors they represent. These exclusives have prohibited us from offering certain eBooks to our customers. Their actions have undermined the industry as a whole and have prevented millions of customers from having access to content. It’s clear to us that Amazon has proven they would not be a good publishing partner to Barnes & Noble as they continue to pull content off the market for their own self interest. We don’t get many requests for Amazon titles, but if customers wish to buy Amazon titles from us, we will make them available only online at bn.com.”
Books-A-Million and Canada’s Indigo Books & Music joined Barnes & Noble’s boycott Feb. 3.
Good for them. I’m glad they’re standing up against Amazon. The company’s (slightly monopolistic) practices have drawn a lot of skepticism in recent months. Just two months ago, Amazon ruffled feathers with its Price Check smartphone app, which encouraged users to visit brick-and-mortar book stores and scan the bar codes of books they are interested in using their phone’s camera. The app then displays Amazon’s price for the book and provides the user with the option to buy the book from Amazon, on the spot. In December, Amazon offered an extra incentive to use Price check; it promised a discount of up to five dollars off products scanned with the app. I mean, what a skeevy move: get people into bookstores and then give them incentives not to buy anything.
It will definitely be interesting to see what this boycott means for Amazon. Will they keep trucking along like they are, steadily accumulating more power? Or will the loss of physical display space for their books force them to reevaluate their business practices? Authors are likely to rethink signing with Amazon if they know it means their books will be absent from the shelves of America’s largest book retailer. Imagine the loss of sales! And not being able to find your hard work on display! (Is not being able to walk into a bookstore and see the book with your face on the jacket a deal breaker?) I’m looking forward to watching this unfold.