Amazon’s recent move to remove the “buy” buttons for nearly all of Macmillan’s books including bestsellers, top releases, and Kindle editions was in my opinion incredibly short-sighted and could in the end really hurt the retailer. And now it seems it has backfired.
This move occurred during the same week that Steve Jobs and Apple launched the iPad which could compete head to head with the Kindle. Apple has met with at least five of the six major publishing giants with regard to pricing (of the Big Six, only Random House’s logo was missing from the iPad announcement, though they’re said to be in discussion with Apple). In this model, publishers will be able to set their own prices for books and pay a commission to Amazon, as opposed to the Kindle model where Amazon sets the price.
Now, John Sargent’s strategy has succeeded and Amazon has acknowledged that “ultimately, we will have to capitulate and accept Macmillan's terms.” At the time of posting, they have not reinstated the “buy” buttons, but Amazon and Macmillan are in discussion. Certainly, the other publishers will follow suit here, which in my opinion is as it should be.
Hopefully, a lesson has been learned here. Amazon should not be bullying publishers. Rather we should all be working together in this electronic age to keep the publishing industry alive and healthy. There are too many people predicting the death of book publishing these days. We all need to work together to make sure this is far from the truth.
If you subscribe to Publishers Lunch Deluxe, you can see the whole story as it developed here.