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Indie Booksellers All Yanking Amazon Titles? Not Exactly

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It would be dramatic to say that independent booksellers nationwide are boycotting Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) Publishing titles en masse — and hey, it could still happen. But a new decision from the American Booksellers Association’s IndieCommerce — which comes as bookstore chains Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and Indigo are making similar decisions — is not so far-reaching.

IndieCommerce is a for-profit subsidiary of the American Booksellers Association. It’s a web platform that lets independent bookstores have e-commerce websites without creating them from scratch. About 350 bookstores are currently using IndieCommerce to run customized sites with shopping carts and content. IndieCommerce provides a database of 5 million print books and a database of about 500,000 e-books through Google (NSDQ: GOOG). This allows shoppers to search for and buy print books and e-books through their independent booksellers’ websites and means individual booksellers don’t have to input titles by hand.

IndieCommerce announced this week that it is removing Amazon Publishing titles from its database. That means if you visit your local bookstore’s website and type in an Amazon Publishing title, you won’t be able to find it — unless the bookstore chooses individually to stock it. “All retailers using the IndieCommerce platform are free to stock any published books from any publisher in their stores and/or to fulfill any customer orders through another source,” the ABA notes. “This policy change in no way affects that ability.”

It’s not a “boycott” but a “protest,” Matt Supko, ABA technology director told me, because Amazon does not currently allow other retailers to sell its e-books. “If [independent bookstores] are expected to be listing and marketing print titles that Amazon is publishing, and we’re not allowed to sell the e-book version of the title, that just seems unfair,” he said.

If Amazon makes its e-books available across all etailers, Supko says IndieCommerce will change its policy and start listing the books again.