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View Full Version : AMAZON PULLS 5,000 E-BOOKS...



thothguard51
02-23-2012, 04:18 AM
As the title states, Amazon pulled 5,000 e-books by blocking the buy button. The books affected are by distributors IPG, (Independent Publishers Group.) IPG says Amazon did not like their latest contract offer on royalty payments for E-books so Amazon shut down. A total of 5,000 titles.

Here's the link...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/22/kindle-books_n_1294272.html?ref=technology&ir=Technology&icid=maing-grid7%7Cmain5%7Cdl2%7Csec3_lnk1%26pLid%3D137584

This action by Amazon will only affect small and independent publishers that distribute their e-books through IPG, on Amazon. Paper books are not affected, nor are self published writers that download straight to Amazon. I don't think any of the big guys are affected either...

Carry on, just Amazon flexing their corporate muscle again.

pfinucan
02-23-2012, 05:31 AM
"Amazon turned off the buying button on the approximately 5,000 Kindle IPG titles because they refused to accept a revised set of terms regarding revenue from Amazon."

I haven't seen the terms that they were fighting about. Has anyone else seen them? It would be interesting to know if this is an extension of the fight that has been going on about agency pricing.

amergina
02-23-2012, 05:48 AM
"Amazon turned off the buying button on the approximately 5,000 Kindle IPG titles because they refused to accept a revised set of terms regarding revenue from Amazon."

I haven't seen the terms that they were fighting about. Has anyone else seen them? It would be interesting to know if this is an extension of the fight that has been going on about agency pricing.

I don't think so. Publishers Lunch quoted the IPG head as saying:


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. (PL is subscription, but you can find the quote at BoingBoing here (http://boingboing.net/2012/02/22/amazon-strong-arms-independent.html).)

So it looks like IPG wanted to keep the status quo (i.e., the same terms they had with Amazon before and the same terms they have with other outlets), and Amazon wanted better terms.

Kriven
02-23-2012, 07:42 AM
While it's shitty, Amazon has every right to refuse to do business with those who won't meet their terms.

Old Hack
02-23-2012, 11:14 AM
I agree. However, it's useful to look at this in a wider context and remember that Amazon has done things like this in the past. It gets bigger and more powerful every year. This isn't good for anyone in publishing, from writers through to readers.

ETA: I'm going to move this to the Round Table, because I think it has implications which extend beyond e-publishing.

Lexxie
02-23-2012, 11:59 AM
Actually, this right there is part of the reason why European publishers don't want their e-books to be available on kindle. This also makes it difficult for readers because each publisher will use a different format for their e-books, and sell them directly, or through other online retailers.

It is kind of sad because in the end, it's the readers who end up the losers.

gothicangel
02-23-2012, 12:58 PM
While it's shitty, Amazon has every right to refuse to do business with those who won't meet their terms.

And on the otherside, the publishers have every right to say 'no, we will not be pushed around by your bully-boy tactics.'

Terie
02-23-2012, 12:59 PM
This also makes it difficult for readers because each publisher will use a different format for their e-books, and sell them directly, or through other online retailers.

Can you cite a source for the part in bold? I've not heard of any publishers looking at developing their own unique e-book file formats. To the best of my knowledge, it's only device manufacturers who are making decisions about unique vs common file formats.

Torgo
02-23-2012, 03:05 PM
Can you cite a source for the part in bold? I've not heard of any publishers looking at developing their own unique e-book file formats. To the best of my knowledge, it's only device manufacturers who are making decisions about unique vs common file formats.

Yes, this - to the best of my knowledge - isn't true. The file formats are about the platform, not the publisher.

As of now I think we have EPUB, Amazon's .azw (based on the old Mobipocket standard), Apple's iBooks format(s) (based on EPUB, but with a few non-standard features), and B&N's Nook format(s).

Captcha
02-23-2012, 03:58 PM
Is there a point at which antitrust laws start kicking in? I've never really understood how those work, but this seems like it's becoming a pretty clear monopoly situation...

Torgo
02-23-2012, 04:03 PM
Is there a point at which antitrust laws start kicking in? I've never really understood how those work, but this seems like it's becoming a pretty clear monopoly situation...

Yeah, I don't really get those laws either, but a bit of Googling (http://www.teleread.com/ebooks/authors-guild-blames-lax-antitrust-enforcement-for-amazon-dominance-of-book-sales/)...

Captcha
02-23-2012, 04:34 PM
Yeah, I don't really get those laws either, but a bit of Googling (http://www.teleread.com/ebooks/authors-guild-blames-lax-antitrust-enforcement-for-amazon-dominance-of-book-sales/)...

Yeah, but WHY is anti-trust not being enforced? Like, have the laws actually changed, or is there just a lack of will to pursue these things, or is there a loophole of some sort, or...?

Torgo
02-23-2012, 04:41 PM
Yeah, but WHY is anti-trust not being enforced? Like, have the laws actually changed, or is there just a lack of will to pursue these things, or is there a loophole of some sort, or...?

Seems to be a decline in enforcement rather than a change in law, but I am no expert. It seems the powers that be would rather go after publishers for agency pricing than Amazon for predatory and anticompetitive pricing *sigh*

Priene
02-23-2012, 04:51 PM
Yeah, but WHY is anti-trust not being enforced? Like, have the laws actually changed, or is there just a lack of will to pursue these things, or is there a loophole of some sort, or...?


Seems to be a decline in enforcement rather than a change in law, but I am no expert. It seems the powers that be would rather go after publishers for agency pricing than Amazon for predatory and anticompetitive pricing *sigh*

I imagine the EU will eventually get around to it. If this (http://seekingalpha.com/article/250507-amazon-positioned-for-50-overall-market-share-by-end-of-2012) is any indicator Amazon is now a monopolist in this market - a monopolist being defined as a company with over a 30% share. Pulling large numbers of books because companies won't meet their demands is evidence (though not proof) of monopolistic abuse, and the EU has a history of moving against companies, albeit belatedly.

PulpDogg
02-23-2012, 05:28 PM
I imagine the EU will eventually get around to it. If this (http://seekingalpha.com/article/250507-amazon-positioned-for-50-overall-market-share-by-end-of-2012) is any indicator Amazon is now a monopolist in this market - a monopolist being defined as a company with over a 30% share. Pulling large numbers of books because companies won't meet their demands is evidence (though not proof) of monopolistic abuse, and the EU has a history of moving against companies, albeit belatedly.

Admittedly I only skimmed the article you linked ... but what do you mean by "this market"? The ebook market in general? The US ebook market or the EU ebook market?

And where is a monopolist defined by having "over 30% share"? Because that doesn't make sense ...

Priene
02-23-2012, 05:43 PM
Admittedly I only skimmed the article you linked ... but what do you mean by "this market"? The ebook market in general? The US ebook market or the EU ebook market?

And where is a monopolist defined by having "over 30% share"? Because that doesn't make sense ...

I haven't looked into the EU market in great detail, but Amazon appears to be acquiring a dominant position in the ebook market, both in the USA and in the UK. If they've done that in countries in the European Union, that makes it the EU's business. If Amazon hasn't such a position, then it won't be.

30% (it may even be 25%) is how 'monopolist' is legally defined in the UK, and I think there's something similar in the EU, since their laws are our laws. A monopolist is a company in a position to control its own market, which the powers-that-be have reckoned. That's why there are four dominant supermarket chains - Asda, Tesco, Morrison's, Sainsbury - and not three or five. They've grown to the extent that they're permitted by law.

MarkEsq
02-23-2012, 05:53 PM
Admittedly I only skimmed the article you linked ... but what do you mean by "this market"? The ebook market in general? The US ebook market or the EU ebook market?


That is a very intelligent question because in anti-trust disputes there is always disagreement about what constitutes 'the market.' Amazon will want it as broadly defined as possible, maybe 'publishing and book sales,' so it sweeps in everybody and makes their share look smaller. Those looking to paint Amazon as a monopolist will try to define the fight around e-book distribution, perhaps.

One other factor that anti-trust folks take into consideration is what's called 'barriers to entry.' In other words, an entity is more likely to be a monopoly if it has a large share of a business that's hard to get into. Oil drilling for example, is hard to get into because of the huge start-up costs. Likewise the airline business.

But publishing, especially e-publishing, arguably has relatively low barriers to entry. It's complicated when you through in reading devices like the Kindle, of course, but that's what makes this area of the law so complex and difficult to enforce.

As for who can challenge Amazon, it could be the government but also individuals. Say, a new e-publisher who feels like he's being unfairly squeezed out.

From my recollection, the actual market share is just one factor in defining a monopoly, and not even a particularly significant one. After all, if you create a revolutionary product, guess how much of the market you have? Does that make it an illegal monopoly? OF course not.

Now, it's been a while since I practiced anti-trust law, and then I didn't do it for long, so take my info with the usual grain of salt.

thothguard51
02-23-2012, 06:19 PM
I am taking a different approach on this one. IPG is a distributor and part of their distribution package is e-book to e-sellers.

In this day and age, I don't really see why any small independent publisher needs to use a distributor to upload books to an e-seller? If its staffing, then they need to increase their staff.

After all, everyone with their hands in the pie means a smaller percentage for the writer, generally, because these small publishers will usually deduct those fees from the writers list price, if the royalties are based off list minus fees.

I also don't see where IPG is going to make up the difference in sales through their other e-sellers because even they admit that Amazon represents the greater percentage of sales. Just from their statement, I feel they are hoping that Amazon will relent eventually and this will only represent a temporary drop in sales. Meanwhile, the poor Indie publishers and authors are going to have reduced sales / profits.

PulpDogg
02-23-2012, 06:19 PM
I haven't looked into the EU market in great detail, but Amazon appears to be acquiring a dominant position in the ebook market, both in the USA and in the UK. If they've done that in countries in the European Union, that makes it the EU's business. If Amazon hasn't such a position, then it won't be.

30% (it may even be 25%) is how 'monopolist' is legally defined in the UK, and I think there's something similar in the EU, since their laws are our laws. A monopolist is a company in a position to control its own market, which the powers-that-be have reckoned. That's why there are four dominant supermarket chains - Asda, Tesco, Morrison's, Sainsbury - and not three or five. They've grown to the extent that they're permitted by law.

Thanks for the clarification ...

Legally defining a monopolist at 30% market share seems ... wrong. Your supermarket example is an oligopol in my opinion, not a monopoly. But lets not argue over law :).

Amadan
02-23-2012, 06:38 PM
In this day and age, I don't really see why any small independent publisher needs to use a distributor to upload books to an e-seller? If its staffing, then they need to increase their staff.

While that's a good point, and I also wonder exactly what value IPG will add to its clients in a digital world, one that occurs to me off the top of my head is collective bargaining power. Right now, IPG represents a lot of publishers, which means Amazon will be hurting a little bit too by not having any of IPG's 400 publishers available to sell, especially if IPG can make sure everyone knows those books are available at B&N and elsewhere.

If every small publisher deals with Amazon directly, then Amazon can dictate terms to each one, and there's very little cost to Amazon to delist a single independent publisher.

Torgo
02-23-2012, 06:48 PM
While that's a good point, and I also wonder exactly what value IPG will add to its clients in a digital world, one that occurs to me off the top of my head is collective bargaining power. Right now, IPG represents a lot of publishers, which means Amazon will be hurting a little bit too by not having any of IPG's 400 publishers available to sell, especially if IPG can make sure everyone knows those books are available at B&N and elsewhere.

If every small publisher deals with Amazon directly, then Amazon can dictate terms to each one, and there's very little cost to Amazon to delist a single independent publisher.

Exactly.

Priene
02-23-2012, 06:59 PM
Legally defining a monopolist at 30% market share seems ... wrong. Your supermarket example is an oligopol in my opinion, not a monopoly. But lets not argue over law :).

You are, of course, correct. Monopoly as defined by economists is greater than 50%. I sometimes suspect legislators have a shaky grasp of economics.

Rachel77
02-23-2012, 08:00 PM
Yes, this - to the best of my knowledge - isn't true. The file formats are about the platform, not the publisher.

As of now I think we have EPUB, Amazon's .azw (based on the old Mobipocket standard), Apple's iBooks format(s) (based on EPUB, but with a few non-standard features), and B&N's Nook format(s).

I think B&N uses epub for the Nook. I could be wrong -- I've never tried to set up an ebook with them -- but that was my understanding.

Torgo
02-23-2012, 08:04 PM
I think B&N uses epub for the Nook. I could be wrong -- I've never tried to set up an ebook with them -- but that was my understanding.

You're right as far as I know (I'm in the UK, so I don't sell to B&N) but for the Nook Color I believe they've forked EPUB a little bit. If you want to do a picture book with sound effects etc for the Nook Color I don't think it would work on any other platform.

Lexxie
02-23-2012, 11:52 PM
Can you cite a source for the part in bold? I've not heard of any publishers looking at developing their own unique e-book file formats. To the best of my knowledge, it's only device manufacturers who are making decisions about unique vs common file formats.

I need to look, and I might be mistaken.
In France, there has been so many discussions about this, and it is only in the past few weeks that it is possible to get e-books that can be used on different readers.
In Norway, I believe it is impossible to buy an e-book that is supported by kindle. Some publishers use the adobe rdm(?I am not sure if this is the correct name) that can be read either only on the computer, or with a special application for iPad or iPhone.
In Switzerland, e-books have to be bought in the language wanted by the reader from neighbouring countries.

Torgo
02-24-2012, 12:07 AM
I need to look, and I might be mistaken.
In France, there has been so many discussions about this, and it is only in the past few weeks that it is possible to get e-books that can be used on different readers.
In Norway, I believe it is impossible to buy an e-book that is supported by kindle. Some publishers use the adobe rdm(?I am not sure if this is the correct name) that can be read either only on the computer, or with a special application for iPad or iPhone.
In Switzerland, e-books have to be bought in the language wanted by the reader from neighbouring countries.

Ah, I see the problem here. You're talking about DRM - digital rights management software - which is something that is added to the file. Two ebook readers might use exactly the same file format, but different DRM systems - that way, they can't read each other's files.

Lexxie
02-24-2012, 12:16 AM
Torgo, I think what you said is right. And a couple of years ago, all the big publishing houses in France were supposed to agree on one or two e-book formats they would all use, so that people could decide on one 'reader' and be able to read books bought anywhere on them.

It took a long time for them to finally agree, and now, most books are both in pdf format and in epub format.

Torgo
02-24-2012, 12:21 AM
Torgo, I think what you said is right. And a couple of years ago, all the big publishing houses in France were supposed to agree on one or two e-book formats they would all use, so that people could decide on one 'reader' and be able to read books bought anywhere on them.

It took a long time for them to finally agree, and now, most books are both in pdf format and in epub format.

I think probably they have agreed to use Adobe DRM on epubs and PDFs, in that case. Is the Kindle in France yet? I doubt that Amazon would sign up to that.

Lexxie
02-24-2012, 12:23 AM
I think probably they have agreed to use Adobe DRM on epubs and PDFs, in that case. Is the Kindle in France yet? I doubt that Amazon would sign up to that.

Yes, there is kindle in France, and just recently it became possible to buy French books for kindle. For the time being, it is impossible to use the kindle for the other e-book formats that are sold in France (and I believe this is the same for Norway).

PulpDogg
02-24-2012, 12:04 PM
For the time being, it is impossible to use the kindle for the other e-book formats that are sold in France (and I believe this is the same for Norway).

And it is the same for the rest of the world. Kindles don't read anything other than their own .mobi and .azw formats.