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It’s been a few weeks since Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) removed the Kindle versions of 5,000 titles from distributor Independent Publishers Group, but IPG has not capitulated to Amazon’s demand for better terms. Now one IPG client, who is losing sales fast, has launched a Change.org petition to “stop Amazon’s assault on independent publishers and distributors.”
Bryce Milligan is the publisher of the San Antonio-based Wings Press, which sells “multicultural books, chapbooks, CDs, DVDs and broadsides.” In an article posted on the Wings website and at Change.org, Milligan writes, “Amazon’s recent actions have already cut the sales of the small press I run by 40 percent. Jeff Bezos could not care less.”
IPG, the distributor of Wings Press, is “the second largest book distributor in the country, but still only a medium-sized dolphin in a sea of killer whales,” Milligan writes. He offers “a single practical example” of how Amazon’s actions hurt his company — even as Wings was benefiting from one of Amazon’s major promotional tools:
Wings Press had offered up one of its Kindle titles, Vienna Triangle by California novelist Brenda Webster, for the Amazon “daily deal”a limited time offer of 99 cents per download. The book zoomed to the top ten of one of Amazon’s several bestseller lists. While it was still listed as a bestseller, Amazon suddenly marked the title as “unavailable.” The trail of loss increases in impact as it descends the food chain: Amazon doesn’t notice the loss at all. IPG sees it as one of its 5,000 Kindle titles that vanished. Wings Press sees it as one of its 100 Kindle titles that vanished. The author sees it as the loss of her book, period.
Overall, IPG president Mark Suchomel says digital sales make up just 10 percent of IPG’s total revenues. But the percentage is greater for some individual client publishers. Milligan says “already e-book sales were underwriting the publication of paper-and-ink books at Wings Press.
Amazon hasn’t yet removed the print editions of any IPG titles, though I have to wonder if the company is holding that move in reserve. As more publishers like Milligan notice an effect on their sales, IPG runs the risk that its clients will start complaining not just about Amazon but about IPG’s refusal to come to an agreement with Amazon.
For now, IPG recommends that publishers clearly state all of the other retailers where their e-books are sold. At the end of the Change.org petition, Milligan notes, “One can choose to buy ebooks from bn.com or from almost any independent bookstore rather than Amazon. One can buy directly from IPG. A free app will allow one to read those books on a Kindle. [Note: I think he means Calibre, which lets users convert other e-book formats into the Kindle-supported MOBI format, but in many instances this requires DRM-stripping plugins, making the process a little complicated for the average reader.] The resistance has already begun, and it starts with choice.”