Amazon has put together a number of initiatives recently involving its Kindle and digital publishing programs: offering Kindle books early for low prices, limited-time discounted Kindle books and an online literary magazine dedicated to short fiction and poetry.
Its newest announcement involves going beyond its own internet doors.
Amazon will allow independent bookstores and other retailers to buy Kindle devices and accessories at a discount, and giving the retailers an opportunity to make commission on Kindle books bought through these devices. The program is called Amazon Source.
Retailers will have the option of receiving 10 percent of every Kindle book purchased on Kindle devices sold by the bookstore for the first two years after a customer buys a device, according to a press release from the company.
“We believe that retailers, online or offline, small or large, should be striving to offer customers what they want–and many customers want to read both digital and print books,” said Russ Grandinetti, Vice President, Amazon Kindle in a release. “For many years, bookstores have successfully sold print books on Amazon–now Amazon Source extends this opportunity to digital. With Amazon Source, customers don’t have to choose between e-books and their favorite neighborhood bookstore–they can have both.”
A similar program started at Waterstones in 2012 and several bookstores have been part of a pilot program for Amazon Source.
Amazon has heard much criticism over the last several years for its pricing of books with many saying Amazon has driven the indie book shops to close its doors.
While a program like this would certainly benefit Amazon by getting a Kindle into the hands of more people, what is the overall benefit for the independent retailers? This seems like another way to drive customers to Amazon’s website and keep them out of the bookstore.
There are two programs a retailer can opt in to:
1 – Bookseller Program: Earn 10% of the price of every Kindle book purchased by their customers from their Kindle devices for two years from device purchase. This is in addition to the discount the bookseller receives when purchasing the devices and accessories from Amazon.
2 – General Retail Program: Receive a larger discount when purchasing the devices from Amazon, but do not receive revenue from their customers’ Kindle book purchases. The first order from Amazon Source is worry-free for retailers–if a retailer decides they no longer want to sell Kindle, Amazon will buy back the inventory for up to six months after their first order, with no questions asked.
Publishers Weekly had reaction from a couple of different independent booksellers who did not seem interested of the program.
Initial reaction from independent booksellers was cool toward Amazon Source. Roxanne Coady, owner of RJ Julia Booksellers in Madison, Ct., said she has no plans to participate. Joining Source, Coady said, is “basically handing over our customers. It’s a seduction, but like any seduction the love will fade.” Moreover, Coady said joining Source would give the wrong signal to customers. “You’re giving your customers permission that it really doesn’t matter where you buy your books.”
The reaction from Chris Morrow, president of Northshire Bookstores in Manchester Center, Vt. and Saratoga Springs, N.Y. was much the same, equating the offer to the time Borders let Amazon run its Web site “and we know how that turned out.” He said there would be only a “marginal benefit” to receiving two years of e-book sales and that in addition to business concerns “there is certainly no alignment of values that would make me want to partner with Amazon to sell e-books. I think most bookstores will react to this offer the way we reacted to Amazon Publishing–no thanks.”
Editor’s Note: While Chris Meadows also covered this story, Susan’s piece had enough additional information/reactions from others that we thought it was worth featuring both pieces.