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Writing & Publishing Orgs Line Up to Condemn Amazon’s Bullying

April 6th, 2008 · 7 Comments · Business Ethics, Publishing

In the last couple of days, quite a number of “players” in the world of publishing have taken a stand against Amazon’s completely unreasonable demand that digital publishers use their digital printer.

Among those lining up: PMA (formerly known as Publishers Marketing Association, in the process of rebranding as Independent Book Publishers Association–the statement doesn’t seem to be on their website as yet), SPAN (Small Publishers of North America)–in a wonderful more-with-honey-than-with-vinegar letter by Scott Flora, and the Authors Guild, in a very strongly worded statement. I expect my own union, the National Writers Union, to join the fray,but haven’t seen a statement yet.

PMA’s Terry Nathan said,

On behalf of all the small and independent publishers whose businesses are in jeopardy, we urge Amazon to reconsider its position. Over the years, Jeff Bezos and his company have given small and independent publishers a level playing field to compete with the largest of companies. Suddenly, this magnificent playing field has been converted into a ‘members only’ club, to the detriment of those very publishers who have contributed to Amazon’s success. We will continue to monitor developments in the weeks ahead.

The company with the most to lose in this brouhaha, Lightning Source, a/k/a LSI, also had a statement. Here’s a piece of it:

Lightning Source has been following the recent press coverage and discussions about Amazon.com
and BookSurge. We are aware of the concern this is causing the publishing community. The issue centers around Amazon.com tying the availability of your books and terms of sale at Amazon.com to the production of books at the Amazon.com subsidiary BookSurge, specifically requiring you to use BookSurge in order to sell on Amazon.

Like you, we are very concerned about any conduct that would serve to limit a publishers choice in supply chain partners and to negatively impact the cost of your products to consumers. We believe that choice and selection of best of class services are critical to the long term success of publishers and a vibrant book market.

Lightning Source continues to provide the highest quality digital on demand print and distribution services for every one of our customers. All your titles continue to be available to all of our channel partners, including Amazon.com, with immediate availability for shipment within 24 hours.

Oh, and here’s the letter I personally wrote to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos:

Dear Mr. Bezos:

As a publisher, an affiliate, an author, a client of Infinity, and a customer, and as someone who devotes an entire chapter in my seventh book, Grassroots Marketing for Authors and Publishers to working with Amazon, I am deeply distressed by your decision to channel all digital-printed books through Booksurge. I believe this is both restraint of trade and an undue burden on your publisher vendors.

Please reconsider a move that will tarnish Amazon’s brand:
Severely impact your long-held brand promise of “Earth’s largest selection”
Create an unfriendly reputation among tens of thousands of authors who have chosen subsidy publishing
Diminish Amazon’s standing as the place of first resort for resources along the middle and end of the “long tail”
Encourage customers, affiliates, and vendors to defect

Unless I receive a response that you are changing your policy no later than April 15, I will be directing my assistant to remove all affiliate links to amazon.com from our nine websites, and replace them with links to BN.com and/or BookSense. As someone who writes about business ethics, I cannot in good conscience stand by idly while you do this.

I will also do my best to disseminate my appeal through the publishing community.

In sadness,
_________________________________________________
Shel Horowitz – 413-586-2388 shel@frugalfun.com
–>Join the Business Ethics Pledge – Ten Years to Change the World,
One Signature at a Time (please tell your friends)

Marketing consulting * copywriting * publishing assistance * speaking
_________________________________________________

Amazon’s response is being widely distributed under the names of several different staffers, and which in my mind is more than a little disingenuous (see the Author’s Guild statement, above, for more believable motivations). My copy was signed by Jennifer Bledsoe.

Let’s hope all these statements will help the “swing votes” among the subsidy houses (who are the first to lose their buy buttons if they don’t kowtow) enough spine to resist this.


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