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Bryan M. Wolfe
| June 27, 2014
Book Publishers: Amazon’s Treatment Is 'Increasingly Ruthless'
It’s no secret that Amazon is the largest bookseller in the world. To remain so, the company has become “increasingly ruthless” in negotiations with book publishing companies. This is a move that one publisher has called “bullying,” according to The Bookseller, a trade magazine. Last month, we told you how Amazon was refusing to accept preorders on many of the most popular upcoming titles from one of the largest book publishers in the world, Hachette Book Group. At issue is an ongoing contract dispute between the two companies. More troubling, it seems, is Amazon’s treatment of smaller publishers. According to The Bookseller, the online retailer is now demanding that a new clause be added to wholesale contracts whereas should a book be out of stock from the publisher, Amazon has the right to publish the book itself. Publishers worry that this would confuse consumers. Many believe books published by Amazon are of lesser quality than those printed by other means. Additionally, Amazon is pushing clauses “whereby effectively books cannot be sold for a lower price than Amazon's anywhere, including on a publisher's own website.” Amazon’s tactics come while Apple is encumbered by an injunction that keeps it from negotiating deals with Hachette, and other “Big 5” U.S. publishers. As you may recall, Apple was successfully sued last year by the U.S. government for conspiring with book publishers to raise e-book prices. Until Apple joined the e-book market in 2010 with the arrival of the iPad, publishers followed a “wholesale model,” which allowed resellers like Amazon to set prices. Apple preferred an “agency model,” which essentially meant that books were sold at the same price everywhere. On June 17, Apple Inc reached an out-of-court settlement with U.S. states and other complainants in an e-book price-fixing class action lawsuit. This allows Apple to avoid a trial in which the iPad maker faced as much as $840 million in claims, according to Reuters. Details of the agreement have yet to be announced. Isn't it about time regulators in the U.S. and abroad take a look at Amazon? See also: Amazon Now Lets You Listen To Audible Audiobooks Right From The Kindle iOS App, With Apple On The Sidelines, Amazon Digs In Over Hachette Book Dispute, and Apple Is Discounting Hachette Books Amazon Refuses To Sell.