Alison Flood 

Amazon Publishing bookshop boycott grows

Independent booksellers join Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and Canadian chain Indigo in refusing to stock retail giant's own books
  
  

The cold war between north American booksellers and Amazon has hotted up this week, with the booksellers joining together to announce that they will not be selling any of the titles published by the online retailer.

The opening salvo was fired last week by America's biggest book chain Barnes & Noble, when it announced that it would not be stocking Amazon Publishing's books. The website publishes a large range of titles, with imprints covering everything from romance to thrillers, and major authors including Deepak Chopra and self-help guru Timothy Ferriss.

"Our decision is based on Amazon's continued push for exclusivity with publishers, agents and the authors they represent," said Jaime Carey, chief merchandising officer, in a statement. "These exclusives have prohibited us from offering certain ebooks to our customers. Their actions have undermined the industry as a whole and have prevented millions of customers from having access to content. It's clear to us that Amazon has proven they would not be a good publishing partner to Barnes & Noble, as they continue to pull content off the market for their own self-interest."

Barnes & Noble's 705 stores were quickly joined by Canada's 247-shop Indigo Books and Music, with vice-president Janet Eger saying to Canadian press that the retailer would also not be stocking Amazon's books on the grounds that "Amazon's actions are not in the long-term interests of the reading public or the publishing and book retailing industry, globally". The US's second largest bricks and mortar book retailer Books-A-Million followed suit, entering the fray late last week when it told Publishers Weekly that its 200 stores would not carry Amazon Publishing's titles either.

Now the US's independent booksellers have joined the boycott, with the American Booksellers Association's e-commerce platform for independent stores, IndieCommerce, beginning the process of removing all Amazon titles from its database, according to Publishers Weekly.

"While Amazon is seeking to distribute its print catalogue through conventional means, it seems that they are simultaneously pursuing a strategy of locking in ebook exclusives which other retailers are not allowed to sell. IndieCommerce believes that this is wrong," wrote director Matt Supko, in an email to independent booksellers. He also stated that "only publishers' titles that are made available to retailers for sale in all available formats will be included in the IndieCommerce inventory database".

The latest clash between Amazon and its bricks-and-mortar counterparts follows anger from US booksellers before Christmas, after Amazon.com offered a discount to customers who looked at items for sale on the high street and then bought them online. ABA wrote an open letter to Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos at the time, calling the promotion "the latest in a series of steps to expand your market at the expense of cities and towns nationwide, stripping them of their unique character and the financial wherewithal to pay for essential needs like schools, fire and police departments, and libraries".

 

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