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Amazon Insists Publishers Use Their On-Demand Printer

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the why-that's-blackmail dept.

Books 182

Lawrence Person writes "According to a story up on Writer's Weekly, Print on Demand publishers are being told to use Amazon's own BookSurge POD printer or else Amazon will disable the 'buy' button for their books. After hemming and hawing, an Amazon/BookSurge rep 'finally admitted that books not converted to BookSurge would have the "buy" button turned off on Amazon.com, just as we'd heard from several other POD publishers who had similar conversations with Amazon/BookSurge representatives... their eventual desire is to have no books from other POD publishers available on Amazon.com.' So much for Amazon's Vision Statement: 'Our vision is to be earth's most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.'"

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Amazon is just like all the rest.... (3, Interesting)

Izabael_DaJinn (1231856) | more than 6 years ago | (#22908912)

I wish all POD books would just go away for the most part. They are often of poor quality both in content and presentation.

I wrote a sci-fi novel [moon-age-daydream.com] last year and we published it hardback with our own press.

What's the difference between that and POD? Pretty much everything. We registered a business, raised capital, had everything professionally laid out, cover designed, then offset printed in a large quantity and warehoused them with a real distributor (that can deal with Ingram and hence the rest of the world, including Barnes and Noble, Borders, etc.). This will net you a quality book!

POD, on the other hand is about a big company milking newbie authors of their dreams and pumping out inferior (even "crappy") products.

I stand by the quality of my book as an independent publisher. I guarantee its quality, that's why it is *returnable.*

In POD things aren't returnable which is why retail outlets stay away from them.

Amazon just wants to milk the little guy like all the other POD companies. They don't mind pushing out the other POD books because they know they don't sell for beans anyway! That's why Amazon will make their money off the authors like the other PODs, but since the only major outlet that will even touch POD books is Amazon, it means most POD authors will now flock to Amazon's POD since who else will carry their book?

It's pretty genius, if ruthless, if you ask me.

*iza

Re:Amazon is just like all the rest.... (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22908938)

I don't think POD is such a bad idea. Wordpress has had it for awhile.. a small webcomic can sell a printed version of their comics for a little server money, or you can get tired of reading your ebooks (cough, textbooks) on your laptop and have them printed out on the cheap, and there's no humongous initial cost.

Re:Amazon is just like all the rest.... (1)

kesuki (321456) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909200)

wouldn't having an ebook printed out be a violation of copyright? i mean remember we're in America here, ebooks don't give you the right to print them out, normally... much less get them PODed?

if amazon is letting people submit an ebook for POD then there is a problem there houston... it's a little different if it's a text file from project Gutenberg, and it's on the 'American' mirror, but not many textbooks are going to fall under anything but well copyrighted material.

Re:Amazon is just like all the rest.... (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909256)

Who said anything about ebooks? I was just coughing.. and I don't know if you can just submit a pdf to have it printed with no human interaction with Amazon BookSurge like you can with CafePress (did I say wordpress before? gah)

Re:Amazon is just like all the rest.... (1)

kesuki (321456) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909314)

ah yes the wonders of automation... I'm quite sure that open office.org allows any textfile you can import into it to be exported as a pdf... quite easy to break copyright laws and get stuff printed as a book that doesn't belong to you. at least at this CafePress company.

sure it's kinda the copyright holders fault for not putting it in a no printing allowed pdf, instead of distributing it as either a regular pdf, or as a text file, even if it was on a cd-rom printed in 1990 way before anyone had heard of this marvelous print on demand technology...

quite ironic that some early cd-rom encyclopedias could be imported in whole or in part in open office, then formatted and saved as a pdf, and printed 'on demand' with none the wiser...

Re:Amazon is just like all the rest.... (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909318)

Or they could have their own POD option with which you can legally acquire a copy of the ebook in print form.

Re:Amazon is just like all the rest.... (2, Funny)

daveb (4522) | more than 6 years ago | (#22910008)

i mean remember we're in America here, ebooks don't give you the right to print them out, normally... much less get them PODed?
No

No we're not.

Choice is Good, OK? (4, Interesting)

gnutoo (1154137) | more than 6 years ago | (#22908976)

Regular publishing might have worked well for you but it won't for everyone. Sometimes a book's contents are more important than the presentation and that's where POD is good. The inconvenience of it all is why print is dying.

This ruthless genius of yours is making Amazon suck. I could almost forgive them for the one-click-patent fiasco because they had a real range of goods to chose from. Yes, I'm still angry at them for making shopping everywhere else suck. Then they opted for that second rate search service two years ago [news.com] . The one that immediately locked out smaller vendors in favor of bigger ones. Not being able to find specialty items drove me right back to ebay and Google itself. The trend continues and Amazon continues down the tube.

If I want a limited choice of goods I'll go to the local brick and mortar store. Amazon used to offer better than that.

Maybe the true motivation for this is to push the (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909366)

Kindle in the future by securing such an avenue for niche content.

hi twitter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22909486)

So choice is great, as long as it adheres to what you believe to be correct.

How's the sockpuppet stable doing, btw? What is it now, five accounts or something like that?

Re:Amazon is just like all the rest.... (5, Informative)

Detritus (11846) | more than 6 years ago | (#22908990)

They are very useful for technical or specialized material that has a small audience. It's a way of keeping a book in-print without spending large amounts of money. I'm grateful when I can buy a POD copy of a book at a reasonable price, when a used copy would otherwise be priced at ridiculous levels. Equating POD with vanity publishing is extraordinarily short-sighted.

Re:Amazon is just like all the rest.... (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909328)

It's just as short sighted as thinking self-publishing is the same as being published by a traditional, royalty-paying publisher. It isn't. There's no selection for quality, no professional editing (usually, but YMMV and probably does), no marketing except for what the author/publisher is able to do on their own and very limited availability in brick-and-mortar stores. I'm not saying, mind you, that self-published books are junque (and I'm especially not saying that about the OP's book) but the quality can be rather unpredictable.


I say this, mind you, as an unpublished writer (Three novels finished but not sold, working on the fourth.) who also has a humor book in print through Xlibris. I don't call myself a published writer, because, of course, Xlibris is POD and even I don't count that as getting published.

Re:Amazon is just like all the rest.... (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909406)

It isn't the same thing as self-publishing.

See:

http://www.artechhouse.com/Default.asp?Publish=1&Frame=reason12.html [artechhouse.com]

Re:Amazon is just like all the rest.... (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909806)

No. In self-publishing, you start your own publishing company to handle your own works. (And only your own works, mind you.) Your company is responsible for distribution and handles all marketing and publicity. If you publish through a POD company, that company handles distribution for you, and might even give you a little help getting your marketing and publicity campaigns off the ground, for an extra fee. Not the same at all, because self published books can sell several thousand copies, while POD rarely get above 100.

Re:Amazon is just like all the rest.... (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 6 years ago | (#22910152)

The number of copies has little to do with what method you use, self-publishing or pod, except that you pre-select the method based on expected sales. You can sell thousands of copies using pod but it just wouldn't be as profitable in the long run if you knew you'd sell that many beforehand.

Re:Amazon is just like all the rest.... (2, Insightful)

rhakka (224319) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909456)

why do you need a publisher to select for quality?

can't a reviewer, friend, or recommendation algorithm select for YOUR particular needs better?

as an end user, I don't give a fig for publishers any more than I can about "recording" companies. The act of printing is trivial now.

What you're looking for is a marketing department that specializes in book promotion and who's willing to take the risk for a cut of the profit. The "publishing" part of it is not where the value is.

Re:Amazon is just like all the rest.... (1)

Naturalis Philosopho (1160697) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909596)

Then the biology textbook which the doctors of tomorrow will buy today can be selected by word of mouth recommendation? Or will the reviewers go though all the crap that's out there and figure out which is the best? Oh, wait, that's what publishers do now.

Let's please not lump together a publisher who brings us crap like Stephen King with publishers who bring us quality literature and informational texts. Or, if you must, please explain why the book of the month club arranging for 300 copy offset-press runs (resulting in a cheaper, higher quality product for their customers, esp. in hardback) is a bad thing compared to crappy one-off POD books of the same title?

Re:Amazon is just like all the rest.... (2, Insightful)

rhakka (224319) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909666)

Yes, that's what publishers do now. They act as filters and marketers. Much as "recording companies" do the same.

That aspect of their business has value and can survive, just as the analogs in the music industry will ultimately survive because it has value.

I think you're being a little narrow minded to think it can ONLY happen under the traditional auspices of a traditional publisher. Certainly the AMA can certify or even commission textbooks on medicine. Trade groups have a long history of commissioning texts. Science associations can't do the same? Word of mouth is the only mechanism other than a publishing company?

Printing isn't a bad thing, nor is your example. it's just a commodity service now. it's not where what we currently call "publishers" have value.

it's 1 am though and I'm probably just being pedantic.

Re:Amazon is just like all the rest.... (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909628)

why do you need a publisher to select for quality?

can't a reviewer, friend, or recommendation algorithm select for YOUR particular needs better?
You DO realize that a publisher is, abstracted, someone you hire to recommend a book you like? That the whole "marketing" apparatus includes every book review, word-of-mouth recommendation, and "if you like X, you'll like Y" wannabe in existence?

What you're looking for is a marketing department that specializes in book promotion and who's willing to take the risk for a cut of the profit. The "publishing" part of it is not where the value is.
Publishing is the act of fronting money to get a book printed, usually for a cut of the gross revenue. Didn't Family Guy have an episode about this?

Re:Amazon is just like all the rest.... (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909870)

I think you misunderstand. A traditional publisher only accepts those books that meet certain standards of writing quality. This includes, but is not limited to proper spelling, grammar, syntax and appropriate use of the language. It also, probably, includes minimizing the use of the passive voice and advancing the story by showing what happens instead of telling the reader. POD companies, OTOH, accept whatever the writer wants put into print except, in most cases, hate literature. A traditional publisher will work with the writer to correct any flaws in the manuscript and in some cases require scenes to be rewritten, while a POD company simply takes camera ready copy and puts it out. I'm not saying that there aren't good books to be found in the POD lineups -- Piers Anthony has put his entire backlist out via Xlibris -- but the average quality is poor by comparison to that put out by companies who pick and choose their product.


As far as your not needing a publisher to decide what's good and what's not, last year's National November Novel Writing Contest [nanowrimo.org] had 15,335 winners. I doubt that as many as 1% were readable, let alone worth publishing. Would you like to wade through that huge pile of dross looking for the few nuggets of gold? I certainly wouldn't, and I was one of them. No, I'll let literary agents and editors do that for me, TYVM!

Re:Amazon is just like all the rest.... (1)

chromatic (9471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909906)

I'm not saying that there aren't good books to be found in the POD lineups -- Piers Anthony has put his entire backlist out via Xlibris...

Those two independent clauses in the same sentence make my head hurt.

Re:Amazon is just like all the rest.... (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909948)

as an end user, I don't give a fig for publishers any more than I can about "recording" companies. The act of printing is trivial now.

A (good) publisher does a lot more than printing. If that's all you need, just talk directly to a printer. They arrange editing, layout, design, artwork. They oversee printing and check quality and costs. They should try to sell rights to other publishers in other languages and countries They arrange distribution and billing. They get books reviewed in real newspapers, interviews with reporters in various media. I work in publishing, and I've done all that. And I've seen self-published books full of amateurish errors that made me cringe.

Sturgeon's Law (2, Informative)

alizard (107678) | more than 6 years ago | (#22910020)

90% of everything is crap.

The traditional publishers' 90% is usually professionally proofread and edited. Anyone who thinks a major publisher's imprint on a book is a guarantee of quality content really needs to read a lot more.

That said, I'm most likely to go with POD should I publish a book on Linux, and I know an increasing number of writing professionals who are either considering POD or are already personally using it. The people I hear making your argument are people who hope to be published someday.

My first published work was back in 1987. My next published work will be a how-to piece on configuring apt, it'll be on Informit [informit.com] in a month or so.

Upside of POD? Control of content, much higher profit per book, and control over how the book is publicized and marketed. If you actually want to sell a POD book, build your own website and promote it using the POD site as a back end to take orders, don't depend on potential readers finding your book among the thousands published on their site. And spend the extra money to buy a package including an ISBN so they can be ordered through brick-and-mortar bookstores.

Downside: No megacorporate budget to buy shelf space, but unless you're already "A" list, you aren't going to get much help from your publisher anyway. If you want a book professionally edited, find a good editor and prepare for sticker shock when you get the hourly rate and time estimate.

Remember that for a professional writer, the point behind writing is profit. You might be able to make more with 10K book sales via POD than 100K book sales via a mainstream publisher. And that very few mainstream published books earn out their advances.

Re:Amazon is just like all the rest.... (5, Informative)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909048)

You're conflating POD with self-publishing. Lots of big, established publishers use POD as one of their methods of production. It's not uncommon these days for a publisher to keep a novel in print in paperback by producing 300 units at a time via someone like Lightningsource.

I'll agree with you that self-publishing is full of scams. But: "This will net you a quality book!" Well, when you're talking about "quality" with respect to a novel, the big issues aren't layout and cover design, the real issue is whether the writing is any good. That has nothing to do with methods of production and everything to do with editorial standards.

Self-publishing can be fine, as long as you go into it with realistic expectations -- i.e., you don't expect to make any money. AFAICT, 99% of self-published books don't reach an audience. The other 1% reach an audience, but aren't profitable.

Re:Amazon is just like all the rest.... (1)

kesuki (321456) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909258)

you're forgetting one thing... publishers usually have very narrow topic margins, even a professional author can get fed up with the kinds of books a publisher wants to buy.. there are plenty of book topics that might have a large customer base (large enough to make money anyways) that no publisher would dare buy no matter how good the manuscript...

the majority of 'readers' are female, so book topics that appeal to men only get less play with editors, unless they know there are millions of men who might want the book even though men tend to read less than women... it's a bad stereotype but women read romances and men read the paper. it's true, it's a painful truth that living in small town America has proven to me when i found that the majority of the sci-fi/fantasy they carried in my local library were the ones women tend to read... they didn't even have much of the old sci-fi authors i remembered from my youth (when i lived in a city of over 100,000)

Re:Amazon is just like all the rest.... (4, Informative)

Repossessed (1117929) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909386)

It's very very hard not to make money off of POD if you sell at least one copy. The nice bit about POD is that there's no up front cost (just the printers cut). Of course 'profit' in this case may mean a few dollars. POD is a bad choice if at all possible to avoid though, prices are much higher, and you have zero chance at all to get into retail. Biggest thing I've seen POD used for where its a first choice, is stuff that's meant for person to person distribution. Textbooks, instruction manuals, things where you just need 50 or less for employees/students/friends.

Self published can mean a lot more money (there are webcomic authors who make a living partly off of self published books). But you get into risks and predatory companies.

Re:Amazon is just like all the rest.... (3, Interesting)

History's Coming To (1059484) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909090)

This is simply the way it will go.

I work in the book industry, science buyer for a large branch of a national bookstore specialising in academic titles. A very big chunk of my job is promoting my subject locally, I'm in touch with local organisations, universities and clubs. I am heavily involved in a national science festival at the moment, supplying books for events where the authors give a public lecture on, say, cosmology, and then sign a few books and have a chat. I'm making sure that we have a bunch of related titles on special offer for the next month or so, and the publishers help me out with that by giving us a discount to allow cheaper books for those who are interested.

We're at the bleeding edge of public science education, along with libraries and the like, and it's exactly the same for my colleagues running the history section, and the art section, and the music section. Yes, it's a little commercial from a cynical point of view, but it's also in our interest to simply get people into these things. Books are a bit special that way.

And then we get questions like "How dare you charge that? It's half the price on Amazon!"

"I don't know sir, why don't you go into their shop and ask the guy at the counter?"
"Don't be silly, I can't"

People are obsesed with getting the cheapest end-product, no matter how good the service.

Re:Amazon is just like all the rest.... (1)

History's Coming To (1059484) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909118)

Oh, and I should point out, we take a lot of POD orders. We don't generally stock them, unless there's an academic recommendation (I sold nearly 1000 copies of a single POD maths book last year), but we WILL order them, individually if needed, if there's demand. Trouble is, shelf space is limited, even with the million or so titles we have on the shelves, we can't stock everything.

Re:Amazon is just like all the rest.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22909250)

And then we get questions like "How dare you charge that? It's half the price on Amazon!"

"I don't know sir, why don't you go into their shop and ask the guy at the counter?"
"Don't be silly, I can't"
Good point. Additionally, just like in this article, Amazon totally has the ability to strongarm publishers! I work for a small publisher doing something that sounds similar to your job, in addition to working as a liaison to local community colleges, universities, etc to help new authors develop school books. The small publisher I work for was forced to give Amazon a 42% discount on our entire catalog or be entirely delisted from Amazon. It was a tough decision, and required price raises on some titles.

Re:Amazon is just like all the rest.... (1)

Raineer (1002750) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909396)

Not all POD houses are like this. Many "real" printing shops are still fly-by-night. They might not use fully variable data and cheaper EP printers, but still $20M Gutenburg's which burn their own plates. I've seen too many of these lives for 18 months on marketing demos then pack up and leave town. I have also seen companies who spend $2M total on their printers with EP technology and stayed in it for the long haul, with quality being a #1 priority.

POD does not necessarily mean crappy covers and shit print quality.

Re:Amazon is just like all the rest.... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22909458)

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Re:Amazon is just like all the rest.... (2, Insightful)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909586)

I care about the content of a book not the fluff attached to it myself. I regularly read 40 year old barely held together books, horrendously mangled OCRed ebooks (for when I can't get the used version of an out of print book), web only work and so on. I really only care about paperback books because they're easier for me to read. Hard cover books simply take up more space and are more difficult to carry about.

In terms of the quality of the content, I don't care much about some single entity saying it's good and it doesn't matter to me if 99.999% of the stuff is junk. I care about that tiny sliver that appeals to me and wouldn't have been normally published (or is now out of print).

Welcome to the glory of the internet. I can get recommendations, summaries, reviews, free chapters and so on with a single click. I can even have a computer program suggest to me what I'd like based on my past behavior.

Re:Amazon is just like all the rest.... (2, Interesting)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909594)

I wish all POD books would just go away for the most part. They are often of poor quality both in content and presentation.

I wrote a sci-fi novel last year and we published it hardback with our own press.
...

Have you, I mean, actually LOOKED at your website?

Good writing is good writing, if it's printed in a collector's edition hardback or a dot-matrix ebook. Unfortunately, sometimes bad writing in a collector's edition hardback LOOKS like good writing, and enough of the folks who poney up the $30 for a copy delude themselves that the genre gets another hack on the shelf.

Mass-market books are returnable because the publisher expects enough of the ten-thousand or so of the first run to sell to make a profit. POD books aren't, in the same way that the entire run of ten-thousand aren't returnable if the author is rendered unpublishable before they can be shipped. (Most plausible example: plagiarism.)

If you managed to make a profit on your inventory, congratulations. If you haven't... well, then you would understand why POD makes sense.

(And on a completely unrelated note, if you want to get into the book publishing business, why don't you just do that? An author writes, and a publisher publishes, because the ability to create a work of art and the ability to decide which works of art are sellable are usually mutually exclusive within any individual.)

a lot of legitimate academic stuff is POD (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909634)

Now granted, a humanities professor trying to make a name for himself with a major book is going to publish it through a major academic press, not POD. But especially in the sciences (where books don't really "count" as publications nearly as much), and especially with established authors, POD is becoming an increasingly used alternative. The main reason is that traditional publishers charge exhorbitant prices for small-print-run academic books. So for many, your choices are basically: 1) traditional publication, sticker price of around $200, basically only libraries buy it; 2) informal distribution, e.g. only as spiral-bound course packets; 3) free online distribution via PDFs; or 4) POD. Of those options, #4 is often a good one.

stop being snobbish about POD ... (3, Interesting)

CalcuttaWala (765227) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909744)

i have published a book on POD on a very eclectic topic which no mainstream publisher would have touched with a bargepole ... and I am perfectly happy with the fact that 50 copies have been sold globally ... And in terms of layout and look-and-feel I have made every effort to make it perfect. So what is wrong with POD ? Just because you have published a book on the traditional route does NOT mean that the rest of us POD enthusiasts should do so as well.

Re:Amazon is just like all the rest.... (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909866)

I wish all POD books would just go away for the most part. They are often of poor quality both in content and presentation. I wrote a sci-fi novel last year and we published it hardback with our own press. What's the difference between that and POD? Pretty much everything

I work in publishing, mostly conventional offset, but have prepared several POD books. The quality can be almost as good as offset. Even interior colour recently, but I mostly just do text. Anyway, POD is very useful to make books available with a minimum investment. It's suitable for the "long tail" kind of book, not general fiction. Books that people look for and order, not randomly come across in a bookshop -- in fact, few sell via bookshops at all, unless ordered by a customer. It needs a much lower upfront cost, has zero warehousing costs. The unit cost is much higher, of course, but as you are usually selling directly to the customer, you can have a higher margin. If you were confident of selling 1000 or more copies in a reasonable time, go offset.

Re:Amazon is just like all the rest.... (1)

Ken V.B. Liar (1176887) | more than 6 years ago | (#22910062)

Your view of POD is entirely too narrow. Yes, a lot of it is crap, but then so are a lot the books published conventionally. ( I know this because I have been the SF/Fantasy/Horror buyer at an independent bookstore for the last 15 years.) POD has its positive uses. Many Trade & University presses use POD technology to extend their offerings. Farrar, Strauss & Giroux offer a large number of poetry titles as POD because the sales don't justify the cost of another conventional print run. Oxford University Press makes available through POD over a hundred titles that were formerly out of print.

Uh OK (2, Insightful)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22908918)

It seems like it would require significant work to set up a line to and account with every print-on-demand service an author cares to use.. why would Amazon jump through hoops to accomodate competitors? This seems like a very specialized situation that Amazon should have plenty of free reign to work with however they'd like.. I think it's surprising that they were even accomodating print-on-demand services in the first place.

Re:Uh OK (4, Informative)

christurkel (520220) | more than 6 years ago | (#22908948)

Most POD and self publishers use LSI, a competitor to Booksurge. That's the issue.

Re:Uh OK (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909008)

If that's the case, isn't there some law to prevent you from squeezing your only competition by placing unjustifiable limitations on the market? Not saying they're a monopoly, but it looks like that's what they're attempting to create with this new requirement they are placing on their vendors.

There should be something illegal about pressuring business associates in one market you have control over, to stifle competition in another market you are also involved in.

Re:Uh OK (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909228)

yes.
vertical monopolies are illegal on the book.

Unfortunately we've seen the "aggression" with which our fine 'free market' appointees at the justice department and FTC have pursued such cases.

Why ebay had to claw tooth and nail through to the supreme court on sherman act charges when they tried to lock people into their paypal service... oh wait no they didn't

Re:Uh OK (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909292)

If that's the case, isn't there some law to prevent you from squeezing your only competition by placing unjustifiable limitations on the market? Not saying they're a monopoly, but it looks like that's what they're attempting to create with this new requirement they are placing on their vendors.

There should be something illegal about pressuring business associates in one market you have control over, to stifle competition in another market you are also involved in.


Amazon isn't preventing anyone from selling POD books in any other market - all they are saying is if you want us to sell your book it needs to be in the following format. If they said you can *only* publish with our vendor, then they might be stifling competition.

Many stores place unique requirements on their vendors - and vendors have the choice of selling under those terms or walking away. Despite the belief of some on /. that trying to establish a competitive advantage should be illegal it isn't necessarily so.

Re:Uh OK (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909658)

If that's the case, isn't there some law to prevent you from squeezing your only competition by placing unjustifiable limitations on the market? Not saying they're a monopoly...
Until Amazon.com is a monopoly, they can do whatever the hell they want.

They are the Wal-Mart of online bookstores, but they do have competition. http://www.barnesandnoble.com/ [barnesandnoble.com] , target.com, half.com... and, oddly enough, wal-mart.com.

Re:Uh OK (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22909012)

09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0

does that make you a rebel?

it makes you look like another one of those 2600 reading faggots. keep up your bitching. i'd rather be creating something of my own.

Re:Uh OK (1)

Zedekiah (1103333) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909064)

ad hominem. I hope I don't have to say any more than that.

Fuck 'em, then. (1)

Shturmovik (632314) | more than 6 years ago | (#22908920)

Still plenty of alternatives around.

Amazon also won't sell my homemade drugs (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22908930)

I am outraged! Good thing I just made some homemade prozac out of ice cream and bleach.

I have a dream... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22908940)

And in that dream I'm FILTHY FUCKING RICH. -- Jeff

"Filter error: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING." You think?

Soapboxing (3, Insightful)

Improv (2467) | more than 6 years ago | (#22908944)

Customer-friendliness and vendor-friendliness are not the same thing. It may be fine to complain about this (details about "why?" and "what effects will it have" are open questions), but saying that it violates their stated goal to be customer-friendly is, at least, underjustified.

Re:Soapboxing (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22909120)

Part of being customer friendly is offering as wide a variety of choices as possible. Refusing to carry something based on a tactic to lock in a different part of the market is not customer friendly.

Let's suppose book X is printed-on-demand by a non-Amazon publisher. Which version of amazon.com is more useful to the customer, the one that offers X or the one that doesn't ? It is difficult to see how the reduction in choice can ever benfit the consumer.

Of course, I've been boycotting Amazon since the one-click patent.

Re:Soapboxing (1)

melink14 (1160527) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909972)

Even if they're customer friendly in some sense they still aren't meeting their vision statement since they're supposed to be a place where you can by anything you want. If I want a book printed on demand by someone else besides their group then they aren't going to let that happen. Hence, a contradiction.

Re:Soapboxing (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 6 years ago | (#22910060)

First, I'm not necessarily pro-Amazon here, just not convinced that they're being bad guys in this one case.

Even if they're customer friendly in some sense they still aren't meeting their vision statement since they're supposed to be a place where you can by anything you want.

What if their experience with 3rd-party POD vendors was so bad that the only way they could guarantee a decent customer service was to do it themselves? Perhaps the others' quality was poor, or their turnaround time was unacceptable, or their shipping logistics couldn't scale to Amazon's level, or they were somehow else unable to meet the requirements. If that were true, I could see their case: those vendors would be the reason you couldn't buy what you wanted.

If I want a book printed on demand by someone else besides their group then they aren't going to let that happen.

Well, they obviously can't sell everything ("I'd like some of the $0.50 temporary tattoos from the vending machines at the pizza shop down the road - not ones from the same source, but from that machine in particular"). This could be their way of maximizing the chance that what you want is actually deliverable when you order it.

I've nursed a grudge against Amazon since the start of the 1-click fiasco, but I can still see how they could potentially be doing the right thing here.

sounds like an opp'y for Barnes and Noble. Borders (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22908946)

They should play that up in their stores: these books are *not available* at amazon.com!

No surprise here (2, Informative)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 6 years ago | (#22908964)

...why not just acquire e-books(in a more open format) through another vendor [thepiratebay.org] ?

Re:No surprise here (3, Insightful)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909528)

Because that's illegal. Amusing, when you consider that the prime reason Slashdotters use for pirating music, movies and software is that unlike books, they're not a physical product. And here you are, advocating the pirating of physical products just because they can be digitised. There's your proof, it's not about "open formats" and "decent pricing", it's about wanting shit and being too damn cheap to pay for it.

Re:No surprise here (1)

aslvrstn (1047588) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909836)

Whaaa? Music and movies are information. The argument is whether when purchasing a DVD you are purchasing the physical product or the information contained therein. Guess what a book is? Information. Are you allowed to make digital scans of your own books as backup? Same issues with books and their corresponding text as DVDs and their corresponding video.

Fucking Greed (0, Flamebait)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909042)

This whole world has basically gone to shit. All we get are news story after news story about how this person or that corporation did something for pure greed.

Gotta get mine -- especially if it makes me a billionaire -- regardless of what it does to anyone else, the environment, or even their own country.

We're fighting a war for, and on behalf of, oil companies. American manufacturers have shipped jobs and technology overseas. The car companies made giant cars knowing full well that they wasted energy and contributed to global warming. Now we have a whole economic sector in crisis due to making loans that people couldn't pay and it is spilling into the rest of the economy.

Why? Because someone could make a buck off it somehow regardless of what it meant for the long-term health of this country, its citizens, and our economy. Even the world.

I don't know why I expected anything different from Amazon.

mod parent up. way up. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22909112)

unchecked greed will be the downfall of our society.

or maybe is...

could be too late. we sure have fucked up alot already.

Re:mod parent up. way up. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22909238)

Greed existed long before society did and will exist as long as humans do.

No need to act like it's anything new. Not even the current level is new.

Re:Fucking Greed (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22909248)

This whole world has basically gone to shit. All we get are news story after news story about how this person or that corporation did something for pure greed.
Oh please. The world has been this way since before written language existed to record the fact. It's nothing new. And while this may seem like a pretty depressing thought, consider the fact that the world hasn't turned out too badly despite all the crap. There's no reason to expect that to change now any more than the rest.

Re:Fucking Greed (-1, Offtopic)

Sanat (702) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909264)

Some say we are in Iraq because Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.

Some say we are in Iraq because Saddam was willing to take Euro's in place of dollars for his oil... The dollars we would never have had to pay back... we would have just printed more.

Some say we are in Iraq because it has a portal located in it that is a shortcut across the galaxy and we wanted to control it. The other portal being located in Israel.

Some say that great change is upon us and that we should simply allow for it.

You seem to be the kind that should just allow for the great change and be in a space of letting go and remembering why you are upon Earth at this time.

Some say that the changes will be horrific and yet others will find peace. Worry not about others for each will be where they are to be in the correct moments.

Know that greed is a fear... some individuals fear humanity, some fear death, some fear not having enough and there is no limit to any of this.

Don't fall into the trap of believing if others do it then it is OK for you to do it. Follow your heart for it alone knows the way.

Re:Fucking Greed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22909308)

Was this generated by a Markov chain? It might be the strangest post I've read today.

Re:Fucking Greed (0, Offtopic)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909282)

This whole world has basically gone to shit. All we get are news story after news story about how this person or that corporation did something for pure greed.
Because that's what people like to hear. Just look at how many articles get posted on slashdot, and how many comments are posted. People love this stuff!!

Gotta get mine -- especially if it makes me a billionaire -- regardless of what it does to anyone else, the environment, or even their own country.
Yes, if only there were a system where nobody at all was anti-social, selfish, or chose to work for some reason other than improving the lot of his fellow man. Where everyone worked to his ability to support every other's need! That is truly what we need.

We're fighting a war for, and on behalf of, oil companies. American manufacturers have shipped jobs and technology overseas. The car companies made giant cars knowing full well that they wasted energy and contributed to global warming. Now we have a whole economic sector in crisis due to making loans that people couldn't pay and it is spilling into the rest of the economy.
I'll take your word on the oil/gas companies, you must know something I don't. Why is manufacturing overseas necessarily a bad thing? Cheap products are good for Americans too. The car companies make cards people WANT. I for one am thankful that you don't get to control my life (though I guess you want to?)! People taking loans they couldn't afford is equally the fault of people not being personally responsible as it is stupid banks. What annoys me in the discussion is the years of demands that the banking industry help lower income families take out loans to buy homes--when they do and it doesn't work out, it's predatory lending..

Why? Because someone could make a buck off it somehow regardless of what it meant for the long-term health of this country, its citizens, and our economy. Even the world.
Ok. Plenty of things have been done and are being done "to make a buck" that are tremendously positive for the long-term health of the country, the world, etc. You're just focusing on the negative because it's easy to do, and that's what people are obsessed with now.

I don't know why I expected anything different from Amazon.
What DID you expect from Amazon? I don't get it? They're a business, only that and nothing more.

Re:Fucking Greed (2, Interesting)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909310)

Yes those evil evil corporations, how dare they do what people want. God forbid people think for themselves and get blamed for bad decisions. It's always someone else's fault, not their own or their own greed.

American manufacturers have shipped jobs and technology overseas.
Which greedy people promptly buy in droves because it's not cheaper without even as much as glancing at where or who made it.

The car companies made giant cars knowing full well that they wasted energy and contributed to global warming.
Which greedy people promptly buy in droves despite other choices existing as well in the market.

Now we have a whole economic sector in crisis due to making loans that people couldn't pay and it is spilling into the rest of the economy.
Which were loans that greedy people took out because they wanted to buy more expensive things.

Why? Because someone could make a buck off it somehow regardless of what it meant for the long-term health of this country, its citizens, and our economy. Even the world.
Corporations are there to make money, if people don't like some behavior then they need to speak out and not buy from those companies. If people don't buy things if a company does X then it is no logner profitable to do X so companies stop.

This whole world has basically gone to shit. All we get are news story after news story about how this person or that corporation did something for pure greed.

Gotta get mine -- especially if it makes me a billionaire -- regardless of what it does to anyone else, the environment, or even their own country.
Yes because children were never put into coal mines in the past, forests weren't so smog covered as to cause insects to change from white to black for camouflage, humans weren't made slaves and didn't die in droves while shoved into overcrowded ships, whole empires didn't exists solely from their conquest of other nations, wars weren't started for the profits of an empire and so on.

We are greedy, almost every single one of us is and that's because we are human. Evolution itself dictates we be greedy, it is greed personified. The fit are to survive and reproduce while the less fit are to be trampled upon by nature. You only win at evolution at the cost of someone else because in the end you all want the same piece of pie and only some of you get it. Well your genes win which may involve your early and very painful death if it keeps your relatives alive but that's a separate issue.

Re:Fucking Greed (1)

TheNucleon (865817) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909652)

Yes those evil evil corporations, how dare they do what people want.


Corporations don't do what people want. Heck, they usually don't even do what the people in the corporation want. They don't even necessarily do what the stockholders want. They do whatever will get the executives the best bonuses and make them look good by scoring a quick buck. Witness the recent reward for the boneheaded executives at Countrywide.

Evolution itself dictates we be greedy, it is greed personified.

Evolution is why we're greedy, that's the best one yet. Evolution schmevolution. Greed is bad. That is why every major religion and the majority of secular philosophers (rightly) indict greed for the ills of society. Picking one religion - the Bible doesn't say that money is the root of all evil (misquote), but that The love of money is the root of all evil. This is correct.

Once we get done drowning in our cheap overseas-produced goods, choking on smog, foraging for water as climate change robs us of our freshwater sources, and lamenting a collapsed economy, perhaps we can see corporately and individually that greed is bad. Or, perhaps evolution will "select us out", showing that, after all, greed is bad from Darwin's perspective as well.

Re:Fucking Greed (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909718)

Evolution is why we're greedy, that's the best one yet. Evolution schmevolution. Greed is bad. That is why every major religion and the majority of secular philosophers (rightly) indict greed for the ills of society. Picking one religion - the Bible doesn't say that money is the root of all evil (misquote), but that The love of money is the root of all evil. This is correct.
No one said greed was good, you're putting words into his mouth.

Re:Fucking Greed (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909672)

This whole world has basically gone to shit. All we get are news story after news story about how this person or that corporation did something for pure greed.
Odd, all I've seen lately are news stories about gossip, sex, and self-promotion of one sort or another. Where are you getting your news?

(Oh, btw -- for every greedy SOB you find, assume the existance of two generious SOBs, two greedy nice guys, and one bonna fide nice person. The rest of us just kinda live beneath the radar.)

Fucking Greed: the important part (3, Insightful)

DogDude (805747) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909694)

You're absolutely right. But these businesses wouldn't be around and doing this shit if the customers weren't lined up handing over their hard-earned cash to these companies, looking for nothing but the cheapest widget or the cheapest book. It's not just businesses. It's individuals, too.

I don't have any book stores or music stores left in my town as of this week. I'm not blaming Amazon and Apple. I blame my neighbors.

Publish self (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22909084)

Use LaTeX and make a PDF and publish it yourself.

Huh? (0, Troll)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909094)

Amazon's Vision Statement: 'Our vision is to be earth's most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.'
I thought that was eBay.

not unreasonable (3, Informative)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909098)

This is not entirely unreasonable. POD operations aimed at self-publishers tend to be flaky and unreliable about issues like quality control, packaging, and promptness in filling orders. Since most self-published books sell only a microscopic number of copies, I suspect Amazon is simply doing this as a way to stay away from business that creates lots of hassles and no significant profit.

TFA refers to PublishAmerica [wikipedia.org] , which is an infamous author mill. I'm not crying any tears for them.

I've self-published some CC-licensed physics textbooks, and I've been reasonably happy with lulu, whose CEO was one of the founders of Red Hat. However, I think most of the people who buy one of lulu's distribution packages probably end up being sorry they did it, because it's just not typically realistic to hope for significant sales of a self-published book through the big retail channels. I just use their free package, where customers order directly from lulu. It's worked great for my needs: noncommercial project, with college bookstores as the customers.

Re:not unreasonable (2, Informative)

SQL Error (16383) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909180)

I'm planning to make printed copies of a manual available for some software I've developed, so I've been looking at various POD options. Lulu looks like one of the best. CafePress also have a POD offering with no upfront charges.

It's worth noting that Booksurge does not have a free option; their minimum upfront charge is $299, and they're quite keen on pushing their more expensive packages.

Bad, bad PR move by Amazon.

Re:not unreasonable (5, Informative)

Dzimas (547818) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909342)

Wrong. Don't confuse POD with vanity publishing. It is possible to directly self-publish a book through a major distributor without a fluffy middleman, My book www.essentialretro.com and hundreds of thousands of others are published on demand through Lightning Source, a division of Ingram (one of the largest book distributors). It costs a mere $12 a year to list in the Ingram catalog (which gets my book onto Amazon) and I earn around 35% of each book sold, with the rest going to pay LSI for printing and fulfilling the book and Amazon for selling it. Amazon maintains a small inventory of my book to ensure that it's available to ship "within 24 hours" and they automatically order more from LSI when they run low. The system works very well and I don't have to do anything to keep my book in print.

Amazon's standard percentage for each sale is a whopping 45% (I've specified a "short discount" of only 35%, which they somewhat grudgingly accept). I investigated Booksurge in the past, and it has several significant shortcomings. First, it would result in me earning about 10% less per book sold, they offer a smaller number of trim sizes and distribution through normal channels is nowhere near as comprehensive as Ingram/LSI (who allow my book to be special ordered at nearly all bookshops). Personally, I'll start directing traffic to an Amazon competitor instead - Barnes & Noble offer me the same terms. Amazon can go take their proprietary system and get stuffed.

Re:not unreasonable (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909372)

POD operations aimed at self-publishers tend to be flaky and unreliable about issues like quality control

Well, the authors tend to be flaky and unreliable about quality too, so I guess it fits...

How flexable is POD? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22909128)

My prof. is publishing a book soon (The Triangle Book, John Conway and Steve Sigur). The thing is, it's large format, full-color, and printed in the shape of a triangle. I wonder if Amazon would even want to print this themselves.

Re:How flexable is POD? (2, Funny)

letxa2000 (215841) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909222)

The thing is, it's large format, full-color, and printed in the shape of a triangle. I wonder if Amazon would even want to print this themselves.

I wonder if anyone would want to buy it??

Re:How flexable is POD? (1)

Raineer (1002750) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909416)

POD is as flexible as you want it to be. My company (InfoPrint Solutions, formerly of IBM) markets two full-color, fully-variable printers which can handle large format. The shape issue is just up to the trimmers after it prints.

Regardless of what some may claim, POD is very much "one-off" technology. The initial work is very small to setup a job if the source PDF/PostScript/IPDS(AFP) is setup correctly.

Given that, I'm sure Amazon will police very heavily what they will do in-house, unless they will charge enough to make it worthwhile for themselves. I can see this as a ploy like "well now we want 80% because it's completely one-stop-shopping!!!"

BOD. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22909138)

"So much for Amazon's Vision Statement: 'Our vision is to be earth's most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.'"

I can't buy Hookers there, so I guess one can slam Amazon for that too?

A good use for POD (2, Informative)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909150)

I use POD services for portfolios and presentation books. I can get a 40 page four color for $20 a copy with no minimums. They look decent and I can print what I need. There's an even bigger reason the service is mainly for wantabes, you can't make money off them. You can't compete with the high run publishers for price or quality. It's a handy service but I would never use POD for a retail business.

The real problem here... (1)

Puffy Director Pants (1242492) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909160)

Is not that Amazon is cutting off the POD publishers. The problem is they have their own vendor for this service, which means, given the gigantic size of the Amazon.com market, they're putting pressure on folks to use their services. Big trouble there.

Re:The real problem here... (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909210)

They are still exceedingly arrogant to think they can leverage that though.

They are not to books what ebay is to online auctions.

There are many other competitors.

I bought many college texts online. None from amazon.

In fact, the only commerce i've done on amazon in the last 5 years resulted in 500 dollars worth of fraud which ended up irrecoverable because of the glacial pace amazon customer service took in addressing the issue.

Re:The real problem here... (1)

tqft (619476) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909808)

It is called 3rd line forcing

It is illegal in Australia and most other places with anti-trust laws.

In the US? Who knows. How much have they contributed to whose campaign?

Amazon holds a lot of power over publishers (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22909196)

Amazon can pretty much push whatever they demand on smaller and even larger publishers these days. As an example, the small press that I work at is required to sell books at a 42% discount rate to Amazon. If we don't comply, they take out books off their listings. Of course Amazon sells it for full price--translation, higher price for consumers due to the chunk Amazon is taking.

Additionally Amazon (like Walmart with RFID) can push other demands, such as conforming to their barcode standards, and shipping by their standards, or refusing to pay.

It's really quite crazy, I wish more people were aware of this.

Re:Amazon holds a lot of power over publishers (1)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909546)

Uh, Amazon's barcode standard is the global industry standard UPC. If you aren't using it, you wont be dealing with any bookstores either.

Re:Amazon holds a lot of power over publishers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22909600)

No, what I was referring to was the fact that Amazon requires use to include EXTRA barcodes on+inside boxes shipped to them that contains information about the shipment. Not a huge deal compared to some other things, but just yet another example of how Amazon is so huge+important that they can control the vendor market to a large extent.

So much for dead trees (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909242)

Disclaimer: I don't read fiction.

Maybe I'm a little too future-happy, but why is paper still relevant today ? If you have the document in electronic form, read it electronically! I'd rather walk around with an ebook reader device than pay some old-world scrooge just to print stuff.

If you find the electronic form hard to read, then demand a better reading device! Kindle ain't your thing ? Then don't buy it! We have the tools, we have the engineering know-how, but people are stuck in their backward ways.

Re:So much for dead trees (1)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909286)

It has nothing to do with being backwards. You simply use the best tool for the job. I want something I can write in, scribble on, throw in a backpack without fear of it being broken. There is no electronic device that is as durable as real book. I was a chem major, I drew in my books, charts, lines, examples, etc. and in color. There is ebook equivalent that is even close.

At the moment, a dead-tree book is the best tool for reading, so I use it. Simple as that.

Re:So much for dead trees (1)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909794)

I want something I can write in, scribble on, throw in a backpack without fear of it being broken.

I don't write in novels. I do in text books and reference books.

You simply use the best tool for the job.

Paperback: I can carry one book, and it doesn't really fit in my pocket, so I have to throw it in my backpack and it gets stolen. Luckily it's cheap, so I can buy another copy.

PDA: I can carry 50 (or 500) books in my Clie, they fit in my pocket, I've carried my Clie in my pocket for several years now without damaging it, though I was worried about the loose flap at first the screen has proven a lot tougher than my previous handheld's. In the same time I've thoroughly trashed a number of paperbacks.

Re:So much for dead trees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22909344)

Disclaimer: I don't read fiction.
You may not read it, but you have an amazing hand for writing it.

Re:So much for dead trees (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909724)

Disclaimer: I don't read fiction.
That's kind of like saying "I don't like music." But anyway.

Maybe I'm a little too future-happy, but why is paper still relevant today ? If you have the document in electronic form, read it electronically! I'd rather walk around with an ebook reader device than pay some old-world scrooge just to print stuff.
The replacement cost of a lost paperback is $20, tops. Assuming you need to special-order it from a scrounger on ebay. The replacement cost of even the cheapest ebook reading device available (The low-end Palm) is close to $100. The additional cost to read a printed book is $0. The additional cost to read an ebook is the electricity to power your reader -- not $0, even if not significantly so. If you drop a paperback book, the worst thing that happens is it gets a little wet or a little dirty. If you drop an ebook reader, you might be out an ebook reader.

The proven lifespan of a paperback book is measured in decades. Ebook readers haven't even been around that long.

If you find the electronic form hard to read, then demand a better reading device! Kindle ain't your thing ? Then don't buy it! We have the tools, we have the engineering know-how, but people are stuck in their backward ways.
Well, that's just it. There isn't anything commercially available that can replace even most of the benefits of a printed book. An "epaper" device like the Sony Reader or Amazon's Kindle has a jarring flash with each refresh. A classic LCD device like a PDA or cell phone has a lower resolution and poor reflectivity. And both, as mentioned before, have a prohibitive cost.

I can buy books and give them away to complete strangers after I read them. I've never met a man who can give away Kindles or PDAs to complete strangers so they can read.

Gremlins (1)

vile8 (796820) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909300)

Amazon has deceived users of its marketplace. They sell things from all sorts of vendors, and it would be fine if they were using this information as market research to decide what services to offer in the future. What they are doing is substantially different though. They are determining the market need and then forcing the sellers to use their new tool. Pulling my freedom after my expectation has been set is "ok" because they own the marketplace? I don't think so.

POD vendors work hard to help authors succeed. Typically the vendors bend over backwards to help the author get a quality piece of work out the door, some bundling editing services, or covers, or really rich high quality printing for photobooks or super large sizes for calendars, or marketing services etc... If Amazons service is as good or superior, wouldn't everyone just use it anyway?

The message this move sends is that they have no interest in helping creators succeed (even if they are profiting on all transactions), they are just interested in owning another piece of the business. So if you are an indie musician, or video maker, or widget maker... when are they going to remove any choice you have as well? All the new music indies coming into their own on myspace... all the filmmaker indies coming into their own on youtube... sorry folks, you have to use amazons duplicating services and may only have 5 tracks per cd. No you cannot pick your cover art. Better still... we have decided that to sell music on Amazon it has to use our new licensing management system, or you can just go somewhere else.

Too bad really, they have alot of cool technology to help sell stuff. This type of anti-competitive behavior, where they are clearly using their weight as "the market" to force the use of their in house service is all too familiar. Guess I'll have to check out some of the other marketplaces I never really paid attention to before. I'd also strongly recommend checking out some of the other vendors that are focusing on this road, and preferably ones that are CC friendly. I am tired of these giant companies making really poor decisions towards their customers freedoms when they get large... did someone feed them after midnight or something?

Competition for Amazon? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909370)

I hear that Apple Computer is getting into the POD business as well.

Ugh.... (1)

Raineer (1002750) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909378)

Now that IBM printing is splitting off into InfoPrint Solutions, this is an especially bad time for such an announcement.

A decent amount of our business (not "most" though) are in high-volume POD accounts

Although, those are always the pickiest and highest-cost accounts by far. It's much cheaper to print billions of phone bills where no one gives a shit about print quality.

Yow-- Seems be true.... (2, Informative)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909382)

Yow-- unbelievable as this may seem, this does seem to be true; a dozen other sites are reporting the same news, including the Wall Street Journal [wsj.com] and the Washington Post [washingtonpost.com] , among others [graphicartsonline.com] .

What in the world are they thinking? This seems to be a pretty flagrant abuse of power.

Chilling (5, Insightful)

bsandersen (835481) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909384)

I find this move by Amazon to be disturbing. Are they a distributor or manufacturer? Until recently, Amazon was simply a retail hub for nearly any product I might be looking for and they were happy to sell it to me. I could search for the best product and know that Amazon was a reasonable place to look for a good price with quick delivery and great service. I was so confident that I would be spending money with them that I gladly paid the Amazon Prime pre-paid shipping and have saved money each year since that program began because of it.

Now there appears to be a shift: Amazon has produced the Kindle and now are, in essence, the publisher of at least 100K titles. They also produce the reader, the Kindle itself. They now have a competitive stake where they were previously just "honest brokers." What happens when two years from now an electronic book system comes out that blows the Kindle away? Does Amazon shun it? Do they do more? Must we now expect Microsoft-like tactics for any technology competitor to the products that Amazon develops or acquires? It isn't just that something might not appear in the Amazon store; I now worry that more active anticompetitive actions may be in the offing now that Amazon has begun down this path.

We recognize when Walmart, the nation's largest retailer, throws their weight around. That makes the evening news occasionally. Our view of Amazon to this point has been only through their web site, stock price, and that little box that arrives occasionally. I fear we may be seeing more of Amazon than that--and it isn't a good thing.

Re:Chilling (2, Insightful)

Pennidren (1211474) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909758)

I fear we may be seeing more of Amazon than that--and it isn't a good thing

the seeing part is good. the thing we are seeing is not.

Re:Chilling (5, Informative)

MITguy21 (1248040) | more than 6 years ago | (#22910072)

Amazon have done a lot of chilling things to me over the years, although from their perspective it's probably just business as usual... As noted by others, Amazon's policies are hell on small specialty publishers. I never buy anything from Amazon or any of their affiliates.
Our automotive engineering textbooks are published by a small press and the first book has been in print continuously since 1995. The other two books are somewhat more recent. All remain in print and sell between 300 and 1500 copies/year. Typical press runs are 2000-3000 copies at a time. Our publisher has their own warehouse which stocks books and sells direct (web/phone/mail order) as well as quantity sales to wholesalers (worldwide) and college book stores.
On several occasions, our publisher has not accepted Amazon's draconian terms[1] and in response (retaliation??), Amazon has listed our books in various ways such as: as "out of print", "possibly out of print", "out of stock", "special order only" or "availability 6-8 weeks".
This has a chilling effect on potential customers. For example, I've received multiple emails through our company website (where we have a page on the books) asking if we might still have a copy for sale. After all, Amazon carries *every* book, right? So if Amazon says it's "out of print" that must be true, eh? Pure BS from Amazon.
Amazon is also the lowest price source, right? Not true, the price on Amazon has been both higher and lower than the direct list price from our publisher.
I just checked to see what they are up to now. Amazon lists our first book (best selling of the three) as follows:
  "(Title) (Hardcover - Nov 1997) Buy new: $149.95 Not in stock; order now and we'll deliver when available"
Our publisher's list price for this book is $99.95 and they ship same day if you order in the morning. Our other books are also listed on Amazon at prices above publisher's list price.
I've also had emails from a number of people that have bought our books and report extremely bad service from Amazon, for example, delivery times of two months are common. I suspect that Amazon sits on orders and waits until there are enough from one specialty publisher to attempt to strong-arm the small publisher into a low price.
When I want to order a book from a small press, I order directly from the source. It might cost a few bucks more (yes, I'm in USA) but I choose to support small publishers this way.
[1] The terms that I heard were that Amazon would only pay 40% of the list price (60% discount) and also insisted that our publisher would cover the cost of any unsold books that Amazon chose to return.

Quick, to the BatSignal to summon Capt. AntiTrust! (1)

SystemFault (876435) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909392)

Too bad he hasn't been seen since early 2001.

heh (1)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909450)

These are the same people that think their Kindle is a great product with a great sales strategy.

Who really cares about print on demand books anyway?  The future is clearly electronic--just not on the Kindle :-)
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