Barnes & Noble reportedly instructs local stores to pull Amazon titles

Barnes & Noble store

Yesterday, shoppers discovered that Barnes & Noble is carrying books from Amazon Publishing’s New York imprint in stores around the country, despite the company’s insistence that it wouldn’t do so.

Following our story’s publication yesterday, I learned that Barnes & Noble headquarters sent an email to its branches around the country telling them to pull the Amazon titles (which are being published and distributed in print by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt under an imprint called New Harvest). This morning, a Barnes & Noble spokeswoman told me, “Our policy has not changed. We are not carrying Amazon titles.”

Without further clarification from Barnes & Noble (though I’ve asked the company for it), it appears that local Barnes & Noble branches ordered and stocked copies of Penny Marshall’s My Mother Was Nuts and Jessica Valenti’s Why Have Kids?, possibly because the company hadn’t stated its policy clearly enough to the stores and because local branches have always had a fair amount of latitude in choosing the titles they want to stock.

Moby Lives, a blog operated by independent publisher Melville House, first saw My Mother Was Nuts on a display table in a Manhattan Barnes & Noble. I turned up other copies in stores around Manhattan (and they are still there this morning). paidContent readers reported seeing the book in Barnes & Noble stores in Chicago, Indiana and New Hampshire. Melville House executive editor Kelly Burdick found it in Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, Louisville, Washington DC, and Boston.

Barnes & Noble said in February that it would not stock Amazon Publishing titles in its “store showrooms” and that readers could only buy them online at BN.com. That appeared to be a stricter statement than CEO William Lynch’s comment to Publishers Weekly in August 2011 that “we will not stock physical books in our stores if we are not offered the available digital format.” Amazon is making its New York imprint titles available to other ebook retailers, but (at least so far) Barnes & Noble isn’t selling Nook versions of the books.

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