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Stop using the 1-click button then

I guess Amazon.com is learning that it too can play Microsoft’s game. In the NY Times article ” Small Publishers Feel Power of Amazon’s ‘Buy’ Button“, Doreen Carvajal discusses the plight of publishers that are being squeezed for profits by Amazon. Now that Amazon.com is one of the largest book distributors globally, they can use their system to reduce business to publishers that don’t want to agree with terms increasingly lucrative to Amazon; Amazon simply turns off the 1-click button and forces customers to go through a much more laborious process to purchase books from those “recalcitrant” publishers, and to pay shipping fees. This is a huge problem, because most publishing is a low margin, low turnover business.

And it’s not just direct fees in question:

“The dispute with Hachette is not the first in which Amazon has resorted to removing the “buy now” buttons for certain books. In the spring it started disabling the icons for some small publishers in the United States that resisted Amazon’s demand that they use an Amazon-owned company, BookSurge, for print-on-demand services. Amazon is the dominant seller of such titles.”

What I find most interesting is the observation that, when a given publisher is not willing to give more of their share of profit to Amazon, the 1-click button is removed from some, but not all, of those publisher’s works – “Bloomsbury best sellers like “A Thousand Splendid Suns” and “The Kite Runner,” which are big earners for Amazon, were spared the same treatment.”

Perhaps we should all simply stop using the 1-click button and take that bit of power away from them. If we don’t find a way to get equilibrium back, we may find it harder and harder to obtain a broad spectrum of the written word.

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