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Target will yank Kindles–why?

Target (s TGT) will stop carrying Kindles (s AMZN) in its stores or on its website after Mother’s Day. The Verge obtained an internal memo about the new policy Monday night, and Target confirmed the news Tuesday.

A source tells the Verge that the change is due to a “conflict of interest. The memo says “Target has reviewed our product assortment and has made the decision to no longer carry Amazon hardware (i.e., Kindle). Certain accessories for Amazon product will stay in the assortment.”

The memo instructs employees, “If you receive questions from guests, share that Target continually evaluates its product assortment [to ensure] the best quality and prices for our guests.” Employees are also instructed on how to handle media inquiries.

Kindles have already been removed from Target’s website. “We will continue to offer our guests a full assortment of ereaders and supporting accessories including the Nook,” Target told the Verge.

Why the change?

Target may simply not want to carry a product from a major competitor. After all, this reasoning could go, why should Target serve as a store showroom for Amazon products? Somewhat similarly, Barnes & Noble has refused to carry Amazon Publishing titles in its stores. However, it seems as if the change of heart happened relatively quickly: Just last November, Target VP merchandising Nik Nayar said in an Amazon press release, “This was a great Black Friday for Target and for Kindle Fire, which was the bestselling tablet in our stores on Black Friday. We’re excited so many guests chose Target as their destination for the new family of Kindle devices.”

It’s also possible that Amazon demanded better terms on Kindle sales from Target and Target refused. I’ve asked Amazon for comment.

The Verge wonders if the change could be related to Target’s partnership with Apple on a mini-store test program.

Target began carrying Kindles in 2010 and used Amazon to power its website until 2011. When the company reassumed control, it said, “This re-launch of marks a first step towards Target’s ambitious plans for multi-channel expansion.”

Kindles are available in a variety of other bricks-and-mortar stores, including Best Buy (s BBY), Walmart (s WMT), Radio Shack (s RSH), Staples (s SPLS), Office Depot (s ODP) and Sam’s Club.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user pagedooley

14 Responses to “Target will yank Kindles–why?”

  1. Christopher Glenn was outsourced to Amazon, one the online retailer’s biggest customers … I wonder if there’s more here than meets the eye.

  2. Abhijeet Kumar

    It takes dumb people to take angry decisions like these. Hasn’t price comparison been there from time immemorial? Even in the days when there was no website to place orders at, people would do some sort of window shopping and make the best purchase after having considered all options.

  3. Dan Hughes

    How long before Apple pulls all of there products out of the Amazon store and kicks the Kindle app out of the app store. That time is coming.

  4. John Kearney

    Maybe its because Microsoft has invested in nook, and is looking for somebody to sell it?
    wouldn’t surprise me if they are willing to pay taget to sell them like the paid nokia to switch to windows phone 7.

  5. Why would one buy it at a B&M and pay sales tax on it when you could just order it directly from Amazon for the same price tax free and Amazon ships it for free?

  6. The most obvious explanation definitely seems to be that Amazon is a direct competitor, selling not just electronics but all kinds of other stuff that Target sells (diapers, clothes, household stuff). I wonder whether other retailers, like Walmart or Best Buy, plan to stop carrying Kindle.

    • If you’re referring to the Kindle Fire, it’s a device for buying all kinds of stuff from Amazon. Target doesn’t need to put something like that in their customers’ hands, and other retailers may reach the same conclusion.

  7. Jay Ethridge

    Why would it need to be an Apple conspiracy? Could it be that Amazon provides apps that allow shops to view items in retail locations and than by them from Amazon on-line instead?

    • John Molloy

      Because it garner’s page hits. Look at the business insider article yesterday where they claimed Apple caused the loss of 500 million jobs. When you looked at the actual list of jobs it appeared to be mostly Amazon caused (death of certain bookshops etc.) But Amazon was out of the equation because “they hadn’t claimed to create any jobs”. So a hit piece, basically.

  8. Rex Hammock

    Perhaps it’s because Amazon is a direct competitor of Target. And Amazon creates apps like Flow that allow customers to hold up smart phones to the products at Target and, in real time, purchase them at Amazon. Perhaps it’s because that’s just like handing out barcode scanners to all Target customers so they can shop at target and buy at Amazon. Perhaps it’s because Target has realized that anything Amazon touches is a conflict of interest with anything Target is.