Macmillan and Amazon

(ETA: A statement from Macmillan.) (ETA2: And Amazon’s response, posted mostly without comment for now, but … I don’t think I’m going to be reinstating those links in the near future.)

So Amazon has removed at Macmillan books from its store, allegedly because of a disagreement on ebook pricing. Thinking about it, I’m not sure this would be an issue if, say, Macmillan wanted to charge one price for ebooks, Amazon didn’t like that ebook price, and so they simply declined to carry Macmillan ebooks bearing that price. Bookstores deciding not to carry books whose prices strike them as too steep is a pretty common practice, after all.

However, that’s not what seems to have happened here. What seems to have happened here is that because Amazon didn’t like how Macmillan was pricing (or wanting to price) one product, they removed not only that product (the ebooks) from its virtual shelves, but all their products. That’s a very different thing.

I’ve gone ahead and removed the Amazon links from my website. My books are in no way affected, but that’s not the point. Many books I’ve loved through the years are affected, but I’m not sure that’s the point, either.

If it turns out Monday morning that this is just a misunderstanding or a computer glitch–or if, as corporate entities sometimes do, Amazon admits they made a mistake and is convincing about why they regret it and will work to keep it from happening again–I’ll put the links back, alongside the IndieBound and Powells links that remain active there. (jimhines is right, after all, in saying that we don’t actually know the whole story yet. )

Until then, this case of what looks like a bookseller trying to strongarm a publisher into pricing one of their products the way the bookseller wants by taking an all-or-nothing approach and exercising power over all that publisher’s products makes me uneasy enough–and has implications enough for publishing in general–that I can’t in good conscience leave those links in place.

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