Amazon is once again punishing publishers for not bending to their nefarious will. According to this story, “Amazon has turned off the buy button on nearly 5,000 Kindle titles from distributor Independent Publishers Group after IPG refused to capitulate to Amazon’s demand for better terms.”
Ahh, better terms, isn’t that what we all want? I’m sure all Amazon wants to do is buy ebooks from IPG for peanuts and sell them for slightly less than peanuts. The more Kindle books, the more need for a Kindle!
Despite this wonderful deal, they refused, at the cost of not having their ebook titles listed on Amazon.
This is pretty much what happened to Macmillan a while back when they told Amazon they wanted to charge whatever price they wanted for their ebooks and Amazon threw a hissy fit. You can always count on Amazon to act like a bully when they don’t get their way, just like you can always count on their excellent customer service. Maybe those two are connected.
They eventually caved to Macmillan and the others of the Big Six publishers. I don’t know if you can tell a lot of difference in the prices, since I don’t shop for Kindle ebooks. I still like to own books if I’ve paid for them, but that’s just me.
There might be less reason to cave to IPG, since they’re a distributor representing lots of small publishers. If it’s one thing that has less say in the ebook market than libraries, it’s small publishers. Amazon possibly figures that anything less than a major corporation better knuckle under to the man.
It’s no secret that Amazon has reached borderline monopoly status with ebooks. Sure, there’s Barnes and Noble with their Nook books, and Apple and Google both want in on the game, but those are only for the unpopular kids.
They’re also the ones that can be borrowed through libraries, at least sort of. People might be able to read their epub books on their Nooks, but Barnes and Noble hasn’t branded library ebook catalogs the way Amazon has, and no one links straight from a library website to the Barnes and Noble website.
A lot of librarians were so excited that Big Brother Amazon was willing to deal with libraries at all that they were willing to overlook this bit of advertising, though a few librarians ranted about it.
Instead of trying to persuade publishers to rent ebooks to libraries, maybe libraries should go begging to Amazon. Maybe Amazon would force ebooks into libraries for a price.
It’s true that libraries can’t offer that much in the way of money, but they could certainly turn over most of their book budgets to Amazon. It’s the thought that counts, that and the willingness to be a supplicating sycophant for Amazon.
Libraries could also brand everything in sight with the Amazon logo. That’s a lot of free advertising for a company that really doesn’t need any free advertising, but again, it’s the thought that counts.
If publishers don’t play along, Amazon could just turn off access to their ebooks. Completely turning off access wouldn’t be the best idea. Turning off the access between the time someone has clicked on the link for the book and the time they try to buy it would be much better. Then they could be directed to buy the book via the Amazon channel at their local library. Or something like that.
None of this could happen, of course. I was just fantasizing about what it might be like if libraries had any leverage at all over ebook publishers. Instead, librarians can gaze on the glory that is Amazon and wish they had even a fraction of its power.