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ipgWell, there Amazon goes again, throwing its weight around. When it came time to renew its e-book sales contract with the Independent Publishers Group, a distributor for 400 smaller client publishers, Amazon demanded better terms than the previous contract had offered. IPG declined, and today Amazon disabled the “buy” button on the distributor’s 5,000 Kindle e-book titles.

IPG President Mark Suchomel told PaidContent, “We’re offering [the e-book sales terms] we offered last week, and somehow they think it’s not quite good enough.”

Suchomel noted that the print titles from IPG clients are still available on Amazon and that e-books are available from many other retailers. IPG’s terms are “acceptable to everyone else in the book business,” he said. “If half the accounts weren’t buying from us, I’d have to question it, but everyone else is.”

IPG is not planning to back down. In a memo to client publishers, Suchomel advises updating all advertisements and other mentions of their books to mention where else the e-book is currently available, and to maintain editions of e-books in other formats than Kindle for ease of purchasing.

Seriously consider the implications of this action for the long run. If we don’t hold firm on your behalf, your margins will continue to erode. IPG will continue to represent you well to those customers that are happy to buy from us at reasonable terms. If you or your authors were working directly with any large vendor, you would not have the opportunity to push back on or even have a conversation about terms. Your continued support is appreciated.

Of course, as a business, Amazon has the right to ask for the contract terms it desires, and decline to do business with those who do not agree to those terms. But the last time Amazon disabled buy buttons, in the Macmillan agency pricing dispute, it came off looking like a petulant child. Are industry onlookers going to be quite so sanguine anymore as Amazon moves toward demanding more money? Will Kindle owners be happy with Amazon for reducing the number of e-books available to them?

It will be interesting to see how this shakes out.

 
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