Michael Kozlowski at GoodEReader is reporting that Kindle e-books from HarperCollins have become unavailable for purchase at many or all Amazon stores worldwide except for Amazon.com in the USA. However, apart from commenters chiming in on an earlier GoodEReader story to note that the books are unavailable from their stores, I have not been able to find any independent confirmation of this story.
What’s more, when I asked a friend who lives in Germany to check for himself, he reported checking six or seven titles from HarperCollins’s bestseller list and finding them still listed as available for Kindle, with his account logged in. He even bought one of them, Welcome to Night Vale, successfully.
Since my own Amazon account is from the USA, I get the standard boilerplate about how Kindle e-books are only available to US customers through Amazon.com when I log into any international store, so I don’t have any way to check directly for myself. Any further reports from international TeleRead readers would be welcome.
It’s hard to know what to think of this story without being able to find any independent confirmation. Certainly, Amazon has had a reputation for truculence in the past when it came to removing publishers’ buy buttons or reducing warehouse inventory so as to cause order delays, so it’s easy to jump to conclusions that Amazon must have done something again. But why would it? As far as I know, it’s still well within the agency-pricing contract with HarperCollins it signed last year, and there haven’t been any rumblings of discontent about it. On the other hand, it has been just about exactly one year since the Amazon/HarperCollins negotiations were reported, so who knows—if there turns out to be something to this after all, maybe there was a one-year sunset on some of the contract terms?
Given that my friend from Germany was able to buy a HarperCollins e-book, I’m guessing that it must simply have been some kind of temporary glitch in the stores—which would make this effectively a non-story, and potentially a lesson in the tendency to jump to conclusions in an industry with a somewhat contentious history.
However, one swallow doesn’t make a summer. It’s still entirely possible there’s more to this, and I will certainly be on the lookout for any further developments.