Target will yank Kindles–why?

Target store

Target will stop carrying Kindles 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 Target.com 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, Walmart, Radio Shack, Staples, Office Depot and Sam’s Club.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user pagedooley

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