The Books of My Numberless Dreams

No longer an Amazon customer

Posted on: March 29, 2008

I’m not sure if you heard but in a boneheaded, asinine, flagrantly anti-customer move, Amazon decided Print On Demand (POD) publishers must print their books through Amazon’s newly acquired POD publisher BookSurge (with a reputation for quality service) or Amazon will no longer sell their books (via Petrona). Customers will only be able to get the books from third party sellers so the purchases won’t be eligible for any Amazon promotions, including the free shipping offer. Of course, you can still get it through Kindle, that product still too needs to be established.

Protests that the publishers are free to go elsewhere are disingenuous: Amazon is the premier site online for book information — even if one doesn’t buy directly from the site it’s likely that one goes there to get book details, reviews and, most importantly for me, excerpts. I make a conscious decision to buy from local stores but for friends abroad its the easiest way to buy books for me and if I’m pre-ordering it’s where I’d go to do so. Not any more.

I will no longer link to Amazon on my site. I’ll stick to publisher sites or use Book Depository. (I’ve been trying to do that regularly now, for a while, but it’s hard to break linking habits and, let’s face it, Amazon typically has the most information.) However, this move overrides the convenience factor. I’ll change the links in my most popular posts and, on bored days, I’ll go through random posts (reviews and the like) to edit links. Please, pardon the updates of old posts that may appear in your RSS readers.

I’m pissed off. I know that brick & mortar book stores long complained about its dominance but I could never feel more than token sympathy because Amazon made itself into an important resource on a scale they couldn’t manage, in a fair and innovative way, to the best of my knowledge. Other bloggers criticised the stupid “one click” patent but as a customer I didn’t think it affected me much. But this ultimatum dumps more expenses on publishers and actively impedes developments in POD, and subsequently makes it harder for me, the customer, to acquire products. If their books are only available through third party sellers whose sales they may or may not be earning any money there’s no incentive for them to list their inventory there making it harder for me, the customer, to get the facts on the books I want. This is a slap in the face I can’t ignore. I’ve cancelled all of my pre-orders and deleted my wishlist. Amazon, you can just fuck right off.


6 Responses to "No longer an Amazon customer"

how screwed up is that?! seems to me a lot of sites have been doing this kind of things lately….

how come the wordpress blogs suddenly have such large type?

Good for you. This is just more strong-armed techniques by large corporations to dominate the market.

I wonder if they will get away with it? Let the lawsuits begin!

Just to add to amazon’s crimes, the ‘new look’ on the UK site is absolutely ghastly. I think amazon may well be getting too big for its boots.

lotusgreen really, which other ones? 😮 And here I thought that Amazon was a gregarious example on this issue. But maybe this sort of thing is more common than I think.

I’m afraid I can’t answer your WordPress question. The font size on my browser (Firefox 2.0.0) is the same as it ever was.

Dark Orpheus thanks. 🙂 Yes, I thought it was pretty darn evil of Amazon. These corporations never stay benign (or even neutral, or even mildly offensive) for long. (See Google.)

Sylvia I sincerely hope not! It sounds like complete bullshit to me.

litlove yes, it’s just one more excuse for me to avoid it. I usually made a point of supporting local vendors and chains, anyway.

A good case can be made that what Amazon is attempting to do violates anti-trust laws. Waiting for federal anti-trust action would take many years–years to get the Justice Department to act, years of trials, years of fussing over what the court decision means. Notice how long it took to deal with Microsoft’s tactics, despite the fact that the corporations they were bullying were large and powerful. None of us can afford that long a wait.

Action at the state level, however, could move much faster, particularly if it involves off-the-record contact and a somber warning from those who can make trouble for Amazon. Amazon is headquartered in Seattle about a ten minute drive from the office of the Antitrust division of the Washington state attorney general. Here’s the contact information:

Office of the Attorney General

Antitrust Division

800 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2000

Seattle, WA 98104-3188

Telephone: 206-587-5510

Fax: 206-464-6338

Note the remark on that web page that “The Antitrust Division only processes complaints that involve either Washington State residents or businesses located in Washington State.” Amazon is in Washington state, so it matters not where you are. You might also want to raise the issue with your state attorney general’s antitrust office, asking them to get in touch with their colleagues in Seattle. If you’re a publisher, encourage your authors to write. If you’re an author, encourage other writers to contact them.

It might be best to call followed up by a letter or fax.

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