Topic: my books
I've been looking around the web for confirmation of my publisher's reports about monopolistic practices of Amazon.com involving publish-on-demand (POD) books such as my own.
I have found only one article that discussed--briefly--Amazon's apparent price fixing last year. Recall from an earlier post that PublishAmerica said that last year Amazon threatened to stop selling PublishAmerica's books unless they would agree to sell those books on their own website only at full list price. Thus, in essence, they demanded that PublishAmerica promise never to undercut Amazon's discount in selling to the public. This is, if true, classic price fixing. The one article I've found thuse far that discusses the situation confirms that Amazon actually did demand the right to fix the prices of PublishAmerica's books and those of other POD publishers. See Amazon BookSurge information clearinghouse at Writers' Weekly.
But no one appears to have raised a big issue over this price fixing.
However, there are scores of online articles and blog entries concerning the subject of PublishAmerica's second letter to me--Amazon's threat to quit selling the books of any POD publisher who did not submit electronic versions of all of their books, reformatted to Amazon's specifications at significant expense, to Amazon's in-house POD unit, BookSurge. The method by which Amazon threatened to stop selling the books was also quite sneaky, and was a veiled threat to use Amazon's visibility to damage sales of the books through other distribution channels. Instead of simply taking down the web pages on Amazon's site advertising the banned books, Amazon threatened to keep the web pages up, but with the "buy" buttons removed from them. The books would still be availabe through Amazon's "used and new" links to other distributors, but would not be available directly from Amazon. This would give the false impression to customers seeking to buy a banned book at Amazon that the book was simply "out of print."
Of course, since these articles first started coming out, Amazon has actually carried out its threat against PublishAmerica, which refused to charge its authors the fees necessary to reformat their books to Amazon's specifications. All books sold by PublishAmerica, including my book (Our Oneness in Christ, ISBN 1424160359) now show up on Amazon exactly as if they were out of print.
Numerous articles and blogs refer to this situation as Amazon's BookSurge "imbroglio." Some speak of the possibility of an antitrust suit (which, incidentally, I would join as a plaintiff if a significant group of others was also participating). The best of the articles and blogs on this are:
Amazon BookSurge information clearinghouse at Writers' Weekly
Petition to stop Amazon's monopolistic practice at I-Petitions
The Eight Hundred Pound Gorilla at Independent authors' Guild
Amazon's POD Monopoly on BookTwo.org
Amazon Bullying Raises Monopoly and Business Concerns on Blogging Stocks
Amazon's official response, which, unfortunately, makes little sense from my perspective.