Amazon Blinks, Blames Macmillan

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Amazon.comIf anyone doubted 2010 was going to be a tumultuous year, this final weekend of its first month has proven otherwise.

After Amazon startled the industry by suspending direct sales of all Macmillan books (print and Kindle editions) sometime Friday evening, in response to Macmillan’s proposing new terms of sales for ebooks, they have now announced they “will have to capitulate and accept Macmillan’s terms.”

Interestingly, Amazon made this announcement directly to their customers within their Kindle Community message board, in an announcement entitled Macmillan’s E-books:

Dear Customers:

Macmillan, one of the “big six” publishers, has clearly communicated to us that, regardless of our viewpoint, they are committed to switching to an agency model and charging $12.99 to $14.99 for e-book versions of bestsellers and most hardcover releases.

We have expressed our strong disagreement and the seriousness of our disagreement by temporarily ceasing the sale of all Macmillan titles. We want you to know that ultimately, however, we will have to capitulate and accept Macmillan’s terms because Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles, and we will want to offer them to you even at prices we believe are needlessly high for e-books. Amazon customers will at that point decide for themselves whether they believe it’s reasonable to pay $14.99 for a bestselling e-book. We don’t believe that all of the major publishers will take the same route as Macmillan. And we know for sure that many independent presses and self-published authors will see this as an opportunity to provide attractively priced e-books as an alternative.

Kindle is a business for Amazon, and it is also a mission. We never expected it to be easy!

Thank you for being a customer.

The decision to make the announcement within their own forums and their point about Kindle being “a mission” (emphasis mine) should be noted as it highlights Amazon’s direct relationship with their customers, a relationship most publishers don’t enjoy, leaving them at the mercy of intermediaries like Amazon.

Welcome to the new world of publishing.

Everything you thought you knew about the business is going to be upended.

About Guy LeCharles Gonzalez

Guy LeCharles Gonzalez is an old and new media pragmatist, social media realist, and marketing strategist. He is the former Director of Programming & Business Development for Digital Book World, a published poet, writer, and active blogger since 2003. He views publishing as a community service, and is optimistic about its future.

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6 thoughts on “Amazon Blinks, Blames Macmillan

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  4. This means that most of us who always priced their Amazon ebooks sensibly in line with the marketplace will enjoy more sales through Kindle. And everywhere else. MacMillan cannot “tell” Amazon how to sell the books, just as it can’t tell the mom and pop bookstore on the street how to sell the books. When it learns how to adjust to the growing digital library it is competing with, it will see that nothing of its publishing empire has been threatened in the first place. Now, both MacMillan and Amazon are going to have their feet held to the fire by the customers. I wish them both luck.

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