Monday, February 01, 2010

Goodbye Amazon

Well, Amazon has finally driven me to end my relationship with them as a customer and affiliate. I’ve been a customer pretty much since the beginning and spent thousands of my hard-earned dollars at their store. The pricing and convenience simply can’t be passed up. However I’ve never been pleased with how they have become something of the Wal-Mart of the book world that helps drive the smaller guys out of business, I don’t support their eBook practice of loading up the books with DRM and having proprietary format for the eBooks and eReader, I was unhappy to learn that if you buy an eBook from Amazon that they can take it back from you whenever they want, no explanation needed, and I was very unhappy when a supposed computer glitch lead to all GLBT and related books being dropped out of their search engine and rankings. But that was all just annoyances that didn’t cause me to end my relationship with them. The latest fiasco happened when Amazon went nuclear and de-listed all of Macmillan’s books in what should have been a behind-the-scenes negotiation. Not only was this a very hard-ball and ultimately childish tactic, but it hurt authors who have no control over the situation and showed a complete disregard for their customers – apparently power is what really matters to Amazon. This was the last straw.

Below are a few links that sum up this latest fiasco – Amazon ultimately has caved in, but while I was writing this post, they still hadn’t followed through by actually putting links back up to Macmillan’s books – childish and dishonest now.
And the Best:
So, I am no longer going to include Amazon links to the books I talk about here. For now, old links will remain, but I’ll slowly take the time to go back and remove them in older posts as well. Instead I will link to these books through the affiliate programs of Powell’s Books, The Book Depository, and Indiebound. For some disclosure – in the 4 years of this blog I have only received about $50 in referral revenue (all from and that all immediately turned around to buy books. I don’t expect to make money and that’s never been the goal of this blog, but I do want to help facilitate getting books into the hands of book lovers, so I do the links. And if along the way I can get a little extra cash to feed my addiction then great. So, if you appreciate what I do hear, click on the occasional link and help feed my addiction.

The Book Depository Shop Indie Bookstores


James said...

I have been linking and purchasing from The Book Depository more and more since it opened up a US branch. I have been doing this purely out of the desire to support them and spread the word a bit, but now I have a good enough reason to throw my support behind them fully. Like you, I will not be referring back to Amazon.

Val said...

I've been buying more books through bookdepository than amazon recently but as much as a like bookdepository, the do not offer nearly as many titles as Amazon does.

Neth said...

Yeah, the variety is a concern. I think that Amazon is basically unequalled in the variety they offer.

I did look into the Barnes & Noble affiliate program as well. It seemed unweildy and wanted me to sign up for other stuff first. And I've heard that it's not near as user friendly as Amazon was (not that any affiliate programs are), so I decided not to do it - I may revisit it in the future.

Brian Propp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ian G said...

ISTM that while Amazon's response was OTT there is clear fault on both sides of this issue.

Since when should publishers be able to set prices? Which is essentially what MacMillan is trying to do. As a book buyer and reader Amazon looks to have my interests more in mind than MacMillan do.

As for Amazon's practices Apple looks to be positioning itself as just as much of a monopoly and their record on issues such as DRM is hardly any better except when they're forced to improve. Plus they're doing it with hardware that is a step backwards for e-reading.

Neth said...

@Ian - well you won't find me defending apple anytime soon. I'm not a fan and I don't expect that they'll do the ebook thing any better than Amazon has.

But, of course the producer of a good gets to set the price. Now a price is only as good as what someone will pay for it, so that's an issue. What Macmillan is trying to do isn't anything new - they want a higher price near the release and will lower it as time goes on. So when the HB is released, the ebook will be more expensive, then when the PB is out, it'll be cheaper. It's really no different from lots of other products - early adopters pay more. If you're willing to wait, you pay less.

And it depends on what interests you really think Amazon has. From what I see they have short-term profits in mind along with maximizing their footprint in the ebook market - really it's all about gaining as much market-share as they can through the Kindle. By artifically lowering ebook prices (which is what they've been doing - they just have enough cash on hand that they can take the loss), they lower the value of the product in the eyes of the public. The long-term consequences of that sort of thing is lower quality and less variety. For me, I want high quality fiction (with detailed editing, copy-editing and all the works that professional publishing provides) and variety that includes mid-list authors who aren't on the same level as the Stephen King and J.K. Rowling's of the world. I want new and exciting authors and I'm willing to pay that price. It's a real shame that more ebook fans don't take the long view.

Jeff said...

Hmm, maybe I misunderstand. Amazon is letting customers buy ebooks for 9.99 and losing up to 5 dollars on each purchase just to try and get prices down so more people can afford to purchase books. sure amazon has had some glitches in their customer service and ebook procedures. Bottom line is that because of apple going behind the scenes and negotiating with the publishers for selling ebooks on ipad, we are now paying up to 33% more for an ebook. Yes lets blame amazon for that.


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