Friday, March 28, 2008

Amazon deletes competition

Having bought bought second-tier Print-on-Demand (POD) publisher BookSurge, Amazon is now working to shut down its competition. According to Publishers Weekly:
"According to talks with several pod houses, BookSurge has told them that unless their titles are printed by BookSurge, the buy buttons on Amazon for their titles will be disabled."
More at BookFinder Journal. The story broke on WritersWeekly.

Amazon's move should concern all publishers, and indeed readers. Amazon has always had a lot of leverage, but they haven't used it. That's clearly changing. The Kindle is already a monopoly product. Will they remove books published on the Sony Reader too?

Coincidentally, I've had POD on the brain; see this post for more on POD and libraries. I guess Amazon may solve libraries' problem with having too many POD publishers to follow.

UPDATE: Good, longer discussions and evidence of meme-spread can be found at, TeleRead, The Wall Street Journal, Wired Epicenter Blog, Techcrunch, Eoin Purcell. I think it's significant that the story has crossed the gap from the POD and general book trade to personal LJ pages and niche outlets like Christian Writers Marketplace and The Wild Hunt ("Will Amazon Hurt Small Pagan Publishers?"). For a continuous stream, check out this Google Blog Search for "Booksurge." My survey found 90% of the posts had hostile titles with the remaining 10% being hostile only in their content.

For book-industry bloggers, and particularly the POD people, this has become something of an I-am-Spartacus moment. (Of course, those guys all died.) The manager of Dashbooks, a POD publisher that makes most of its money off Amazon, writes of the "liquid courage" (margaritas) that led to their post on the topic. Certainly I hesitated a moment before posting. Let's see what our Amazon-funded competitor has to say about Amazon's move...

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Blogger Andrew Timson said...

What do you mean when you say the Kindle is a "monopoly product"? Amazon isn't the only source for Kindle books… And only owning a license to ebooks is nothing new; I'm pretty sure that the software-based readers have similar EULA language.

3/28/2008 8:04 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

I wouldn't be surprised if the link you pointed me to broke the DMCA, and if it didn't that Amazon could, like Apple, announce that it won't support X on its system. Fundamentally it's their system, legally and technically. That you can hack it to get your files on it isn't a mass solution.

3/29/2008 9:32 AM  
Blogger Andrew Timson said...

If it removed the encryption, it would probably violate the DMCA (and I don't think I gave the link for that…) It's not circumventing any access controls on the copyrighted material, though. Access controls on the Kindle, yes, but from my lay reading of §1201 that's not a problem (any more than providing your own file in a "normally" supported format would be).

I'll certainly grant that it's not a mass solution, though.

3/29/2008 12:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why are you arguing over Kindle?

Wasn't the point of the post that BookSurge is trying to take over the Print-on-Demand by penalizing authors and publishers? I am a writer, and I want choose who and where I publish with, not be dictated to by a greedy, power-hungry upstart.

3/29/2008 2:59 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

>Why are you arguing over Kindle?

Because it's another Amazon product, so this is a bit of a potential trend.

3/29/2008 5:26 PM  
Blogger Aaron Shepard said...

You might be interested in the post on this issue on my Publishing Blog, "Amazon Declares War on Lightning Source."

Aaron Shepard
Author, Aiming at Amazon
Webmaster, Sales Rank Express

3/31/2008 1:30 PM  
Blogger Emily Veinglory said...

re: "Will they remove books published on the Sony Reader too?"

Hello? 2006 when they removed all non-Mobi ebooks from Amazon? Remember?

3/31/2008 2:32 PM  
Blogger Andrew Timson said...

Hello? 2006 when they removed all non-Mobi ebooks from Amazon? Remember?

That's different; Amazon dropped those formats, yes, but they don't care if a title is available in them in addition to Mobipocket.

Tim is suggesting that they might threaten to drop those books which are available in Sony Reader in addition to Kindle; they don't currently carry any Sony Reader books, though.

3/31/2008 5:25 PM  
Blogger Emily Veinglory said...

But they will, of course, allow people to publish with LSI & Booksurge. It is just that only the latter will be on amazon. just as my pdfs are for sales on fictionwise but only my Kindle versions on Amazon. They can't, by defintion, control what formats you sell via other retailers.

4/01/2008 1:41 PM  
Anonymous reademwritem said...

I'm following this closely. I wish Ihad done more research before going with BookSurge. It was just so easy after Kindle. Doh!

4/03/2008 7:05 PM  

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