Amazon has largely taken over control of the printing industry. There are still some major bookstore chains out there (and some smaller stores that are hanging on), but most people head directly to Amazon when they want to buy a book (digital or otherwise).
This means that Amazon has the upper hand, and that’s not always a good thing. Currently, Amazon is putting some major pressure on UK publishers, and that pressure is likely to start extending to other parts of the world as well.
Rock and Hard Place
Not cooperating and working with Amazon means certain death for a lot of publishers that rely on the company. So, when Amazon hands down some rough demands, publishers have to comply, and that’s exactly what Amazon has just done. The company sent a list of requirements to publishers including:
If a book is out of stock from a publisher, Amazon can then print that book using the company’s own printing terms.
Books can’t be sold for a price lower than the one listed on the Amazon website, and this includes the prices listed on a publisher’s website.
These two demands are seriously troubling for both publishers and authors alike. It means that Amazon is taking over how the publishing industries with swift moves, and publishers have to play ball or risk losing sales through Amazon. Authors should be very worried too.
When a company like Amazon puts a lot of pressure on publishers with demands like the ones listed above, authors suffer too. Paying out more money to a company like Amazon means that publishers will pay authors less money, and things like advances are going to be much harder to come by. With consumers wanting books for less and companies like Amazon making more demands on publishers, authors should brace for a lot less income. Yet, the author is the one component of the publishing industry that is absolutely essential – without authors, publishers can’t hack it, and that means that Amazon would lose money.
Right now, Amazon is forcing the aforementioned terms on publishers in the UK, but German publishers are also facing Amazon problems. The German publisher Bonnier has filed a complaint with the Federal Cartel Office claiming that Amazon is purposely delaying deliveries of its books, so that large discounts are forced. Amazon has told press that these claims are not true, and that Bonnier is asking for high prices for digital books (Amazon believes that digital books should cost significantly less). The Federal Cartel Office has yet to weigh in on this case.
Should a company like Amazon have this much control over the publishing industry? Further, what’s going to happen to the people that actually write books? The amount that authors make on book sales has been slipping over the past few years, and now those dollars are about to become even fewer. Will the future simply consist of self-published books printed and sold by Amazon? It’s starting to look that way, and that’s not a future that will be very bright.