Amazon has begun targeting POD (print on demand) publishers in the US, removing their “Buy” buttons from its site unless they agree to use Amazon subsidiary BookSurge to do their printing.
The move was exposed in a story in Writers Weekly and is another sign that the online giant is using its growing market dominance to reach deeper into the publishing value chain. It follows concerns that Amazon’s Kindle ebook strategy is designed to lock publishers into its proprietary system. Amazon is estimated to have 15% of the overall US book market and a much higher percentage of its online revenues.
This is an interesting move, given that most POD publishers are small operators, often self-publishing authors, and is sure to generate a lot of vocal anger in author circles and beyond.
Amazon has responded to this controversy with an open letter setting out its case. The company says the move to bring prin-on-demand titles in-house via its BookSurge unit has been driven by customer considerations. By producing the book itself, it can ship faster and potentially gain efficiencies by adding other products to the package before it ships to the customer. Meanwhile, John Ingram, head of LightningSouce, Amazon’s main rival in the US POD market, has joined the debate by highlighting POD publishers’ concerns.