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UK Writers and Publishers Consider Strike Against Amazon

A battle between the publishing side and the retail side is forming overseas. Amazon has stopped selling new copies of some Hackette Livre UK’s most popular titles such as books from Stephen King, James Patterson, and Alexander McCall Smith. Amazon lists the books but the only way to order the book is through the second hand seller market. The “buy” button is gone from these pages. Hachette says that Amazon is doing this to force Hachette to give up a greater percentage of the profits.

It will be a serious test of fortitude for authors and publishers to take a stand against Amazon. I tell you that if the publishing industry took a stand in the US against Amazon for arbitrarily removing the “buy” button from author pages, I would delete Amazon from our site as well even though it would represent the loss of the only revenue Dear Author receives.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

11 Comments

  1. stephanie feagan
    Jun 18, 2008 @ 22:31:48

    Jane, doesn’t B&N offer a similar program if you link to them?
    I loathe and despise Amazon, and Jeff Bezos. Is he beginning to look reptilian, or is it only my overactive imagination?
    I hope Hachette wins this one – but I sadly expect that they won’t.

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  2. Meljean
    Jun 19, 2008 @ 01:02:54

    Speaking just as a reader — doesn’t Amazon worry that its customers will be frustrated by having to order from a secondhand market? Every once in a while, it makes sense to buy used/new through Amazon US — but when each book comes from a different UBS or other secondhand seller, the shipping charges outweigh the low used price.

    If I couldn’t buy the latest Stephen King directly from Amazon but felt I was being forced to buy through another store … I’d just get in my car and drive to Borders, or Target, or wherever. Amazon and associates wouldn’t see a penny. Are they so certain they won’t alienate their customer base, and not just piss off publishers/authors?

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  3. Jules Jones
    Jun 19, 2008 @ 03:48:38

    I’m now using the Powells affiliate links wherever possible for my US shipping links. I’ve started using Play.com for my UK shipping links, although they don’t have an affiliate programme. I occasionally have to give in and use Amazon when those two don’t have something available.

    I’ve used B&N links in the past, but as far as I could see, nobody ever used them, so I stopped.

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  4. Jane
    Jun 19, 2008 @ 07:22:58

    Jane, doesn't B&N offer a similar program if you link to them?

    Yes, but for some reason I had an issue with signing up. I think I didn’t like the contract or something. I can’t recall. I will tell you that since we started putting a Powell’s link up a couple of months ago on the individual review links, we’ve only had one sale there versus many, many others at Amazon.

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  5. stephanie feagan
    Jun 19, 2008 @ 09:29:55

    Interesting. So there are scads of people who are okay with buying from the Evil Empire. I suppose a consumer would see this in a whole different light. If Amazon is succesful in their quest to take an ever bigger slice of pie, thereby undercutting profits from authors, publishers, agents, distributors, etc., the book market will look quite a bit different. Because most of us, except for Nora and Stephen King, will be selling shoes.
    I’m always a bit fascinated by companies like Amazon and Wal-Mart. They’re like cancer. They take over and consume the source of their livelihood. I remember reading about Snapper lawnmowers and Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart wanted to sell Snappers but insisted Snapper sell them at deep discounts, essentialy cutting most of the company’s profit margin. They said no thanks and walked away. If I ever have to buy a lawnmower, it’ll be a Snapper – even if it costs more than whatever it is they sell at Wal-Mart.
    I bought a book from Amazon UK, many moons ago, but that’s it. I buy my books from B&N or Borders. But who am I kidding? It’s like spitting on a forest fire.

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  6. Patricia Rice
    Jun 19, 2008 @ 15:14:14

    If it should reach the point that you quit using Amazon, I’ll personally drum up ads for you!

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  7. Ann Bruce
    Jun 19, 2008 @ 23:04:48

    I'm always a bit fascinated by companies like Amazon and Wal-Mart. They're like cancer. They take over and consume the source of their livelihood. I remember reading about Snapper lawnmowers and Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart wanted to sell Snappers but insisted Snapper sell them at deep discounts, essentialy cutting most of the company's profit margin.

    Such vehemence.

    You do realize that when Wal-Mart approaches suppliers and demands deep discounts, most times they also send in CI teams to work with the suppliers to improve the suppliers’ efficiency and cost-cutting measures, right? Usually through process improvements and not just cutting corners. I can think of at least a dozen instances of this happening, but I just don’t have time to go into them.

    Essentially, a business model where your suppliers go out of business is not a sustainable model.

    EDITED for coherence.

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  8. Ann Bruce
    Jun 19, 2008 @ 23:08:01

    And, no, I don’t work for the “Evil Empire.”

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  9. SonomaLass
    Jun 20, 2008 @ 00:13:22

    What the really big guys want is a business model where your competitors go out of business. Then you can control the market and dictate terms to your suppliers because they have fewer options remaining.

    Applause to everyone who takes the time and spends the money to keep diversity in our marketplace.

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  10. Ann Bruce
    Jun 20, 2008 @ 00:23:42

    Screw the deadline.

    Wal-Mart did not become the “Evil Empire” from day one. They started small, just like every other company. Um, perhaps they got big because they saw room for improvement and took advantage, while other businesses decided they didn’t need to change to remain competitive.

    For a country built on capitalism, there sure are a lot of people who want to take jabs at the success stories.

    EDITED because two people so far doesn’t constitute “a lot.”

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  11. Rene
    Jul 01, 2008 @ 03:19:09

    As with anything, there is an upside and a downside to capitalism. I have heard that large companies like Wal-Mart can sell items at or below their cost, making the cost up with other items once a customer is in the store. I think it’s called a ‘loss-leader’. It makes it virtually impossible for a small independent store to compete. I’ve also heard of one chain store deliberately being run at a loss until the competition is gone and then jacking prices–but I think that’s illegal.
    I guess the question is, success for whom and over what time frame? Amazon, B&N and Borders are all ‘successful’ but I don’t feel it has improved my success as a reader–in fact I get the impression that the variety of books available has suffered with the demise of the independent bookstores, headed more to the ‘least common denominator’.

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