Amazon BookSurge Information Clearinghouse
UPDATE: 08/26/2009: Federal Judge Denies Amazon’s Motion to Dismiss in Antitrust Lawsuit
UPDATE: 05/19/2008: BookLocker has filed a class action lawsuit against Amazon.
All the stories, blog posts, comments, and updates coming in from our original story about how Amazon is forcing publishers to use their BookSurge printing company are starting to get unwieldy. So we've created this page to help everyone keep track of what is going on. And help those who are new to the story get up to speed.
What is the story, you ask?
Reports had been trickling in from the POD underground that Amazon/BookSurge representatives have been approaching some Lightning Source customers, first by email introduction and then by phone (nobody at BookSurge seems to want to put anything in writing). When Lightning Source customers speak with the BookSurge representative, the reports say, they are basically told they can either have BookSurge start printing their books or the "buy" button on their Amazon.com book pages will be "turned off."
Here's the latest...
Monday, May 19, 2008 - BookLocker has filed suit against Amazon.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008 - WritersWeekly issues call to authors/publishers to send their complaints about Amazon/Booksurge to the Federal Trade Commission. For information on how to do this, click HERE.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008 - The Washington State Attorney General has issued a statement claiming they are not planning further action against Amazon. They claim "it may be more appropriate to refer this matter to one of the federal antitrust agencies for review" and "anyone feeling that they have been harmed and wish to pursue a remedy should consider consulting with private counsel."
Tuesday, April 21, 2008 - PublishAmerica revealed in an email to its authors that they raised the prices on their own website a year ago under threat by Amazon: "Roughly a year ago Amazon forced PublishAmerica to raise the pricing of our own books on our own website. They would not allow us to sell our almost 30,000 titles at sales prices lower than what Amazon chose to charge, and they threatened us with the very same retaliation that followed a year later after all."
Thursday, April 17, 2008: Xlibris appears to still be hemming and hawing. They finally responded to Angela's email of March 25th, saying, "We apologize that we are unable to comment on the subject below as we are still standing by for the official communication from the higher management and our partners. As of this writing, it is still business as usual with Amazon.com." Is it just us or are all of the big POD publishers' statements starting to sound like broken records?
Wednesday, April 16, 2008 - The National Writers Union is also publicly condemning Amazon's actions. "The National Writers Union/UAW Local 1981 strongly opposes Amazon’s new restriction on the print-on demand market and calls upon Amazon to immediately withdraw this monopolistic intrusion, or face our call for investigations by the Justice Department and Congress."
Tuesday, April 8, 2008: Washington State Attorney General has issued a statement about the Amazon situation.
Monday, April 7, 2008: UK's Leading Writers Website calls for Amazon Boycott.
Saturday, April 5, 2008: WritersWeekly is processing numerous emails from angry authors who are asking why their publishers are not telling them the whole story about this situation. One author in particular received this note yesterday from iUniverse: "We are currently handling a high volume of incoming phone calls and e-mail messages. Your inquiry is important to us and we will respond to every message in the order in which it was received. Case #..."
PUBLISHERS! OPEN UP AND TELL YOUR AUTHORS WHAT'S REALLY GOING ON!
Friday, April 4, 2008: Scott Flora, Executive Director of The Small Publishers Association of North America (SPAN), sent THIS LETTER to Jeff Bezos and the Amazon Board of Directors.
Friday, April 4, 2008 - YES? NO? MAYBE SO??? AuthorHouse issued a statement today that doesn't admit or deny they signed the Amazon contract. The statement ends with this line: "We will aggressively fight anything that is done to limit choice, increase cost, or weaken the industry that together we’ve worked so hard to build." However, we have a copy of an email sent by a manager at AuthorHouse on 4/1/08 that says, "AuthorHouse has been in negotiations with Amazon for some time and recently came to an agreement to allow BookSurge to print titles sold through Amazon." Authors deserve to know exactly what's going on, guys!
Friday, April 4, 2008, 6:12 PM - ASJA STERNLY DENOUNCES AMAZON'S STRONG-ARM TACTICS IN PRESS RELEASE; states the company's current actions negate years of goodwill built up with writers.
Friday, April 4, 2008, 3:15 PM - The Authors Guild, the nation's largest society of published book authors, has issued a statement studying anti-trust/legal implication of "Amazon's bold move." Seeking any info. others have that might be helpful.
Friday, April 4, 2008, 2:34 PM - The ASJA just sent a letter to their members regarding this situation. You can read it HERE.
Friday, April 4, 2008, 12:30 PM - Angela just received a phone call from the American Society of Journalist and Authors (ASJA). They will be issuing an official statement shortly.
Thursday, April 3rd, 2008, 1:09 PM - Amazon now threatening publishers who offer customer-direct discounts on their own website.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008, 7:15 PM - We have obtained a copy of the canned email Xlibris is sending out, which pretty much says nothing at all but does imply they have not signed the Amazon contract. Yea, Xlibris.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008, 6:58 PM - Angela just checked the listing on Amazon for the BookSurge printed book she ordered (see new article for details). It is now "out of stock". Gosh, now what does that mean about their "print and bind a book in less than two hours" statement? Shouldn't their POD books never be out of stock?
Wednesday, April 2, 2008, 5:00 PM - Angela's NEW ARTICLE just posted.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008, 7:10 PM - Lightning Source has just issued a statement regarding this matter. You can view a copy HERE.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008, 2:42 PM - AuthorHouse/iUniverse caved in. They signed the Amazon contract.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008, 10:34 AM - According to a statement posted to a Lulu forum by a Lulu employee, it looks like Lulu signed the Amazon contract.
Monday, March 31, 2008, 9:15 PM - A reader has alerted us that the PublishAmerica and Whiskey Creek Press "buy" buttons have not been turned off at the amazon.co.uk site, perhaps because the anti-trust laws are more stringent in the U.K.
Monday, March 31, 2008, 7:53 PM - Ex-Amazon Catalog Developer, Glenn Fleishman, takes a red pencil to the statement Amazon issued today. See his comment under THIS ARTICLE.
Monday, March 31, 2008, 5:10 PM - Angela Hoy tried to reach Bob Young at Lulu this morning. His secretary said he would call at 4:00 PM. She called Angela after 4:00, and said he wasn't available, but agreed to put her through to Gale Jordan, Lulu's Director of Public Relations. Gale Jordan said she would try to have the Vice President contact her. She called back a few minutes later to say he was not available (that he was on a plane). She then basically said they wouldn't be able to give us a statement before Angela's deadline. She asked if anyone could talk to her tomorrow morning. Jordan said no, that they were all out of town at a remote location. Angela asked if they really couldn't talk to her or if Lulu just didn't want to comment. Jordan said, "A little of both. We're just not going to comment."
Angela left a message on John Feldcamp's (Xlibris) voicemail today. He has not returned her call.
Angela left a message on Kevin Weiss's (AuthorHouse/iUniverse) assistant's voicemail today. He has not yet returned her call.
An AuthorHouse author contacted Angela today and said he was told by his AuthorHouse representative that AuthorHouse was in "intensive negotiations with Amazon." I can't, of course, confirm that is true, but the silence from these big three POD publishers speaks volumes.
Monday, March 31, 2008, 4:10 PM - Amazon.com has released an official statement about their actions HERE.
It basically just rehashes what you already know, but puts a pretty spin on things from their end.
They rationalize they can ship books faster. Our printer, Lightning Source, ships books to Amazon's customers directly, even using an Amazon.com return address sticker. They rationalize they can ship items together to save money, and that doing this saves transportation costs and fuel. What they don't tell you is that forcing a publisher to pay Amazon to print their book, plus setup fees for new books, plus 48% of each sale could and probably will mean higher list prices on books and, thus, less money in the customers' pockets, less money in the publishers' and authors' pockets...but more money in Amazon's pocket.
Furthermore, Amazon has, according to Wikipedia, 10 distribution centers in North America alone; and 14 more abroad. Are they currently printing print-on-demand books in each of those centers? I don't think so. So, their "save money/time by packaging POD books with other products" rationale appears to have a few glaring holes in it.
If Amazon can't currently print POD books at all its distribution warehouses, why are they telling POD publishers to sign that contract NOW?
Notice they left out the setup fees ($50 for new titles), the printing costs, and the 48% they want from each sale. In fact, there's no mention of fees at all in the statement. They also don't mention that the average publishing package for authors at Booksurge is over $1,000.
Also, regarding the Advantage Program, they left out the fact that publishers/authors have to pay $29.95 per year, PLUS shipping costs to get the books to Amazon, PLUS 55% of each sale to Amazon. They don't seem too concerned with shipping and fuel expenses for this part of the statement, probably because the publisher has to pay for those.
Finally, they, of course, don't mention the past quality control problems experienced by Booksurge. If a customer gets a book with missing or upside down pages, who's going to get the blame? Not Amazon, that's for sure. The publisher will get the backlash for that.
What do you think about Amazon's official statement, readers?
Monday, March 31, 2008 - We have heard from more than one source that tomorrow, April 1, 2008, is the deadline that some POD publishers to sign the contract with Amazon/Booksurge, or risk having their buy buttons removed from Amazon.com
ATTN: AuthorHouse/iUniverse, Xlibris and Lulu - DO NOT CAVE IN!!! Join the proud and strong POD publishers who have refused to be bullied into paying Amazon to print their books! If you submit to this horrible action, you may hurt yourselves and your authors, and do a grave injustice to the entire industry!
Sunday, March 30, 2008: Somebody started an online petition to combat Amazon's actions here. Please sign it online to show your support. (Note: Donations are NOT required by that site to sign the petition.)
Saturday, March 29, 2008 - Whiskey Creek Press is a traditional publisher that uses POD technology. We were alerted by one of their authors that they appear to be the latest Amazon/BookSurge "buy" button victim. We checked and it appears numerous Whiskey Creek Press print books are now only available through resellers. The Kindle versions are, of course, still for sale directly through Amazon.
Friday, March 28, 2008 - As of Thursday, the "buy" buttons for the vast majority of PublishAmerica books were removed from Amazon.com. The books can now only be purchased by resellers.
PublishAmerica issued a press release today that states, "PublishAmerica will not comply with Amazon's ultimatum, and will not allow that company to dictate who will print PublishAmerica's books, and at what conditions."
(last updated: 05/14 at 6:20 AM Eastern)
Amazon Demands BookSurge by Garrett Edward Godwin
Follow-up stories from WritersWeekly:
The story that started it all:Amazon.com Telling POD Publishers - Let BookSurge Print Your Books, or Else...
Voice your feelings to the Washington State Attorney General:(courtesy of www.amazontroopsurge.com)
Blogs dedicated to the Amazon / BookSurge controversy:
Articles, posts, and discussions from around the web:
If you know of other sites or groups not mentioned here, email the link to firstname.lastname@example.org
A New Amazon Mandate? Say it ain’t so, Jeff by Morris Rosenthal
Amazon Forcing POD Publishers to Make a Hard Decision, Virtualbookworm
Amazon Tightens Grip on Printing by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg, Wall Street Journal
Amazon Tightens Noose on Print-On-Demand Publishers; Insists They Use Company’s Own Service by Rafat Ali, The Washington Post
Amazon to Force POD Publishers to Use BookSurge by Jim Milliot, Publishers Weekly
Amazon Explains POD Move; Ingram Raises Questions by Jim Milliot, Publishers Weekly
Amazon changes rules for print-on-demand publishers by Linda Rosencrance, Computerworld
Amazon pulls a Microsoft by Robert L. Mitchell, Computerworld Blogs
Amazon Puts the Squeeze on Publishers by Betsy Schiffman, Wired Blog Network
Amazon.com: Print Through Us...Or Else by Mark Jeffrey, The Huffington Post
Amazon Gets Demanding with Print-on-Demand Publishers, O'Reilly Radar
Amazon Declares War on Lightning Source by Aaron Shepard
Is Amazon Publishing Ready For Prime Time? by Morris Rosenthal
Amazon's Book Surge Gambit Changes the Digital Landscape by Lloyd Jassin
Amazon: Friend or Foe?, Publisher's Weekly
Shortening The Long Tail, Blue Penciling
Backlash forms against Amazon, the Inquirer
New publishing policy at Amazon angers authors by Andrea James, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
POD enraged by Amazon move as writers’ site calls for boycott by
Boycott! Amazon insurgency spreads to UK, ComputerWorld
Amazon.com: Cutting off your nose to spite your face..., Garwulf's Corner
Amazon Bullying Small Publishers, Out of my Mind Blog
Amazon policy change threatens small publishers by Renee A. James
Amazon & POD (Provoke On Demand), poetry hut blog
Poetry book publishing takes a hit, Rocket Kids
Amazon and the Airlines, Matilija Press
Writers Beware! by Heather Vallance
Amazon, BookSurge and the Future of POD, The Golden Pencil
Vertical Integration, Views From The Eagle's Peak
Amazon faces anti p.o.d. surge, Bookseller.com
Dead tree net neutrality by Bart Preecs
The Amazon POD Conundrum by John Kremer
Amazon.com Writes the Book on Corporate Greed by Candace Talmadge
Writers, Publishers Protest New Amazon.com Policy by Nina M. Lentini
Authors Guild Looking at Antitrust Issue of Amazon’s POD Plan, Publishers Weekly
Amazon monopolizes the small publishing industry, Words from the Aether
Bullying: The New Way to do Business on the Web by S. Joaquin Rivera
Nile Books Tells Publishers ‘We’re Only Game in Town’, Morning Satirical News
Amazon/BookSurge's coup de main on POD publishers by Eugie Foster
The Book Publishing Wars... Amazon/Booksurge vs Everyone Else, Wing Tang Wong
The Advance of the POD People by Sgt. Mom
Amazon.com, a Publisher of Racist Bilge? by Warner Todd Huston, NewsBusters
The Protocols of the Elders of Amazon by Yuval Levin, Commentary
Amazon Continues to Squeeze Authors and Small Publishers with BookSurge Ultimatum by Shireen Jeejeebhoy
Amazon's Smiling Logo is a Sneer, and Jeff Bezos is Looking Like Snidely Whiplash by Peg Silloway, The PegBoard
Amazon furious after publishers undercut its book prices online by Dalya Alberge, Times Online
PMA on Amazon's POD Policy, BPNW News Blog
Amazon controversy heats up by Robert L. Mitchell, Computerworld Blog
There’s Something About Amazon by S. Joaquin Rivera, The Broken Forum
RESPONSE TO AMAZON'S OPEN LETTER by John W. Cassell
Round Two of the Great Amazon Imbroglio by Sgt. Mom
Amazon's Terrible, Horrible, No-Good Idea by Rachel Starr Thomson
The Nine Gazillion Pound Gorilla Bares its Fangs by Richard Curtis, E-Reads
Direct Sales: Publishing’s Last Stand by Richard Curtis, E-Reads
What Is Amazon Up To?, Beneath the Cover
Okay Amazon… by Tammy Cardwell
AuthorHouse & IUniverse Jump Ship to Booksurge by Mick Rooney
Round Two of the Great Amazon Imbroglio, The Daily Brief
Amazon’s Blatant Disrespect of Their Best Customers, Beyond Niche Marketing
Amazon analysis? Who wins in this??? by Diama Castilleja
Amazon/Booksurge - Xlibris Update by Mick Rooney
Amazon May be on Receiving End of Internet Justice by Anita Campbell, Small Business Trends
The Essential Marketing Secrets that Amazon Forgot, Attraction Biz.com
So you want to be a novelist by Tom Barlow
PMA Calls for Amazon to Reconsider POD Stance, Publishers Weekly
Amazon Trying to Capture Total Print on Demand Market, Ajourneywelltaken's Weblog
More On the Amazon Mess, Doubtful Muse
Amazon bullying raises monopoly and business concerns, LifeandMoneyToday.com
Don't buy your books from Amazon, Figure Skating Blog
Self-Publishing World in an Uproar! POD Publishers Held Hostage by Amazon/BookSurge!, Write Nonfiction in November
Crystal Balls Or No Balls At All...the Future Of Publishing?, booktrade.info
Amazon In-House Print-on-Demand Policy Irks Small Publishers by Mark Hefflinger, Digital Media Wire
Amazon and Print on Demand - the struggle continues, Just Write A Book Blog
Does Amazon's Shipping News Hold Water?, Mediabistro
Amazon FYI--Pepper, Erotic Romance
Amazon tightens its grip - now dictating to publishers re their own prices !, Podding Along Nicely
King Kong of book sales makes a grab…, 2 Texans Down Under
Espresso Printing Press Heating Up by Lorina Stephens
A statement from Ingram and Lightning Source by June Austin
Ingram Book Group Respond to Amazon POD strategy by Mick Rooney
Amazon bullying raises monopoly and business concerns, Timothy Sykes, BloggingStocks
'No plans' for Amazon UK p.o.d. by Graeme Neill, Bookseller.com
Amazon steers publishers to its print-on-demand facilities by Chantal Todé, DMNews
questions I’d like to hear Amazon / Booksurge answer, The Nimble Books Blog
Amazon v. Lightning Source by Mark Levine
Still No Word From Amazon.com/BookSurge on What They Plan To Do by Adam Dewitz, Print CEO Blog
Now Amazon wants to eliminate the printer, American Printer
Amazon Strongarms Small Publishers by Greg Taylor, Publish Yourself
Amazon responds to print on demand (POD) changes by Mark Riffey
Amazon’s Official Statement, The Lulu Book Review
Is Amazon Seeking to Dominate Small Presses? by The Wandering Author
Amazon’s Arrogance, Author Marketing Experts
Amazon’s POD monopoly, booktwo.org
Is Amazon Getting Greedy? , open...
Oh, REAL nice, Amazon.com, Beatlegirl's Blog
Market Report -- In Play,MSN Money
Amazon Muscles Print-On-Demand Services by Duncan Riley, TechCrunch
Amazon & BookSurge, words count
Urgent News for Authors, The Holistic Writer
Monopoly - It’s Not A Game by Jean-Marie Hershey, Print CEO Blog
Amazon.com's POD land grab, BookFinder.com Journal
Amazon Changes POD Tactics, Removes Velvet Gloves by Kassia Krozser, Booksquare
Amazon The Monopoly, PersonaNonData
Amazon Muscles Print-On-Demand Services, web2bite.com
Use BookSurge or Die? by Victoria Strauss, Writer Beware
Amazon/Golliath takes on the little guys by Helen Gallagher, Release Your Writing
Amazon Bullies POD to Use Booksurge -- or Else., Shadowhelm's Journal
Amazon deletes competition, LibraryThing
What's Amazon Up To Now? by Tawny Taylor
Amazon Shaking the POD World Big Time, Juno Books
A hearty "F$%k you!" to Amazon by Elf M. Sternberg
A Call to Bloggers: Stop Supporting Amazon, Inhabitatio Dei
Amazon to Force POD Publishers to Use BookSurge, Media Mensch
Self Publishers and Amazon, Writerly Stuff
Amazon Tightens Grip On Printing, booktrade.info
Amazon trying to screw small presses?, lupabitch
Dear Amazon, What are You Thinking? by Monica Valentinelli, Words on the Water
Will Amazon Hurt Small Pagan Publishers?, The Wild Hund
Amazon and us by Gill Polack
Will Amazon Become the Google of the POD Industry? by Deborah Woehr
Down with The Zon! by Celia Kyle
Amazon blocking books of competitive publishers?, electronista
We are not amused--veinglory, PODPeople
Bully on the block?, The Pearlsong Letter
The monopolists: You need to worry about Amazon too by Eion Purcell
Is Amazon trying to monopolize the empowering Publish-On-Demand market?, Chris Boese's Weblog
500 pound gorilla, Idle musings of a bookseller
Bye-Bye "Buy Buttons" for POD Authors?, The Backroom at Dehanna.com
Amazon Making a Big Mistake by Cheryl Pickett
Amazon to force POD publishers to use Booksurge, Murder by 4
Amazon.com’s dirty little deed, pds_lit
Amazon’s Stupid Anti-Competitive Move, Principled Profit
A Call to Bloggers: Stop Supporting Amazon, Resurrection Life
Amazon.com Is On Drugs, Thought Patterns
Maybe Amazon's problem is obvious?, The Snoozeletter
No longer an Amazon customer, The Books of My Numberless Dreams
Are They Nuts? by Heather S. Ingemar
Amazon not playing fair, Synthstuff
Amazon attempting to squeeze POD industry, Terry Heaton's PoMo Blog
Amazon.com Takes On Digital Book Printers, Graphic Arts Online
Boycott Amazon!, PlainTalk
Amazon.com Hates Small Press? by JM, Fiction Scribe
Telling the 900-pound Gorilla Where not to Sit, Quaker Pagan Reflections
Amazon puts the Squeeze on POD Publishers by Easy Author Web Sites
Amazonian bullying, Satima's Blogspot
Amazon May be on Receiving End of Internet Justice, Small Business Trends
Amazon Situation Continues and Lesson #1, The Publishing Answers Blog
Amazon Chaos by Marshall S. Thomas
That Amazon decision, PETRONA
Backlash Over Amazon Monopoly Tactics by Deborah Woehr
The Eight Hundred Pound Gorilla by Celia Hayes
Amazon squeezes POD by Nick Farrell
POD Publishers Outraged by Amazon's New Restrictions, Law Librarian Blog
Et tu, Amazon? by Todd Keisling
Amazon smacks little people with BookSurge By Cade Metz, The Register
Will Amazon destroy the Indy-Publishing Industry? by Charles Sheehan-Miles
Amazon Pushes POD Up a Creek, The Lulu Book Review
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