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FEBRUARY 28, 2012
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FEBRUARY 24, 2012
Canadian publishers weigh options amid Amazon row with IPG
Several Canadian firms have seen their ebook titles blocked from Amazon’s Kindle Store as the online retailer does battle with U.S.–based distributor Independent Publishers Group.
Toronto’s ECW Press and Montreal’s Véhicule Press both had their ebooks removed from Amazon’s website Monday night after Amazon and IPG failed to renew their agreement to sell Kindle titles. ECW alone had more than 500 Kindle titles pulled from the site, though they remain available in other digital formats through sources such as Kobo, Sony, and Apple.
IPG has asked publisher clients not to reveal the new terms requested by Amazon, but ECW co-publisher David Caron described the demands as “unsustainable.” He also confirmed the dispute is over terms for ebook sales, not prices.
“The terms Amazon was getting weren’t any less favourable than what we were giving any other customers,” explained Caron. He added that Amazon is the firm’s largest channel for ebook sales: “The terms were commensurate with their importance in the marketplace.”
In an email sent to publishers on Wednesday, IPG president Mark Suchomel wrote, “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 your revenue from the sale of both.”
Caron said ECW plans to stand behind IPG as negotiations with Amazon continue. “In fairness to our authors and in fairness to our other ebook customers, there are a number of reasons we can’t agree to what they [Amazon] are proposing.”
IPG’s print sales through Amazon have not been affected by the disagreement.
FEBRUARY 23, 2012
FEBRUARY 22, 2012
Amazon Pulls Publishing Group's Titles
By Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg, Wall Street Journal
Amazon.com Inc. has pulled from its Kindle e-book store nearly 5,000 titles distributed by a group representing more than 500 independent publishers following a dispute over terms.
Amazon stopped selling the Kindle titles Monday evening, said Mark Suchomel, president of the Independent Publishers Group, although it continues to sell the group's physical titles. Mr. Suchomel said the group had been negotiating for a new e-book contract with Amazon but that the retailer wanted more favorable terms. "They decided that what they were getting last week is no longer good enough this week," said Mr. Suchomel.
He declined to be more specific. Publishing terms generally cover such areas as wholesale pricing, advertising, and payment requirements. In some e-book deals, publishers set the retail price but that isn't the case with the digital titles distributed by Independent Publishers Group, where Amazon sets the retail price.
A person familiar with the situation said that the terms offered to Amazon by Independent Publishers Group were not as favorable as terms available from rival book distributors. Mr. Suchomel said his terms are in line with those of his rivals.
The move reflects an increasingly fractious book-selling landscape, where retailers are showing a willingness to flex their muscles by dropping certain titles. Last month Barnes & Noble Inc., unhappy about Amazon's attempts to sign exclusive deals with publishers and authors, said it would not sell in its stores any books published by Amazon.
Amazon's latest actions are significant because they send a message to distributors and publishers that it is willing to delist digital books at a time when e-books are the fastest growing segment of the publishing business. "It wouldn't seem that the aggregate revenue of the publishers involved could add up to a significant amount of volume," said Amy Rhodes, a partner at Market Partners International Inc., a consultancy. "It would seem to be more about message sending than actual economics."
"I'm disappointed to say the least," said Cynthia Sherry, publisher of the Chicago Review Press, a sister company to Independent Publishers Group within Chicago Press Review Inc. "This is a classic squabble over price. It's especially disturbing because books have cultural significance, and people expect them to be made widely available."
The development was first reported by the book-industry publication Publishers Marketplace.
Mr. Suchomel said that the disputed titles represent less than 10% of his group's total revenue. It distributes only a modest number of fiction and romance titles, areas that have proven extremely popular in the e-book format.
Amazon Removes Kindle Versions of IPG Books After Distributor Declines to Change Selling Terms
President of the second-largest independent book distributor Independent Publishers Group (IPG) Mark Suchomel 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." As of yesterday, Suchomel says, Amazon has taken down all IPG ebooks from its site, though they continue to sell print books from the distributor's clients. (Our own check confirms that Kindle editions are missing for IPG titles, complete with the standard box to "tell the publisher!" you would like to read this book on Kindle. Individual Kindle hyperlinks now result in error messages.)
Suchomel writes: "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 your 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." Suchomel reiterated to us that the company's terms of sale for ebooks have not changed.
Suchomel suggests to clients that they help spread the word to consumers and direct ebook customers to the accounts that still sell the titles. "There is no better way to show our valued customers how much we appreciate doing business with them than to send orders their way."
He suggests that other accounts should be reminded of their "favorable competitive position on our electronic titles." And he reminds accounts to "practice what you preach. Support accounts that support your business. Ask the organizations you support to do the same." Also "remind family and friends of the value to our society of independent voices and ideas, and that independent publishers and bookstores need to be supported or they will go away."
At the same time, Suchomel writes: "Remember that Amazon continues to be an important account that sells a lot of units. This is a business decision on Amazon's part, and hopefully they will soon decide to reverse it and buy at our standard terms."
In the meantime, here are links to Nook versions of a few titles that IPG says on their website are among their digital bestsellers:
Boardwalk Empire, by Nelson Johnson
Chernobyl Murders: Book One in the Lazlo Horvath Thriller Series, by Michael Beres
I'm with the Band, by Pamela Des Barres
All In: From Refugee Camp to Poker Champ, by Jerry Yang
Snow Blind: Book Four in the PI Julie Collins series, by Lori Armstrong