Independent Publishers Group announced yesterday that Amazon.com has removed every Kindle edition of IPG Books from their site. This is serious and requires immediate response from all interested parties. Amazon did the same thing last year with all MacMillan Books and backed off after pressure from authors and publishers.
IPG is one of the largest book distributors of independent presses in the world. It distributes hundreds of smaller and mid-size presses that publish thousands of titles.
Mark Suchomel, president and CEO of IPG said in an e-mail alert yesterday, “I am disappointed to report that Amazon.com has failed to renew its agreement with IPG to sell Kindle titles…. 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 [publisher’s] 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…”
This is another cautionary warning of the dangers of what is close to being monopoly power by Amazon in the sale and distribution of e-books. Kindle Editions account for more than 60% of all ebook sales. They can only be read on Kindle Readers which are the largest selling e-book readers by far. Anyone who owns a Kindle reader can no longer purchase or read any of the thousands of titles distributed by Independent Publishers Group.
Amazon’s power in the marketplace and their willingness to exercise that power to chilling effect on the availability of ideas in the world should be of interest to us all. Not to put too fine a point on it, this is a censorship of the marketplace that has the same impact as any other form of censorship.
All writers, publishers, and book lovers should make their feelings known. Amazon did this last year with all the titles of MacMillan and ultimately backed down due to pressure. This is not in the long term business interests of Amazon, a company that prides itself in being “the Earth’s largest bookstore.”
But even if Amazon backs down, the act itself will put pressure in the future on all publishers to capitulate to Amazon on what are unreasonable demands for unsustainable trade terms by publishers.