May 21, 2008

BookLocker Files Class Action Lawsuit Against Amazon.com By Angela Hoy | printable version


This article appeared in Monday's Special Edition of WritersWeekly.com. You may reprint this article or quote from it at your discretion. You can read/post comments here: http://antitrust.booklocker.com

BookLocker.com has filed a class action lawsuit against Amazon.com in response to Amazon's recent attempts to force all publishers using Print on Demand (POD) technology to pay Amazon to print their books.

You can read the complaint HERE.

Amazon began their clandestine effort earlier this year by phone (nobody there seemed to want to put anything in writing), approaching POD publishers, and telling them they must pay Amazon to print their books or their active "buy" buttons would be turned off at the Amazon.com website. What this means is Amazon customers won't be able to purchase those books directly from Amazon.com (and would not qualify for free shipping), but only through third-party resellers on the site.

Under the Amazon/BookSurge contract, Amazon:


In a public statement, Amazon offered only one alternative to publishers, which is their "Advantage Program." However, they did not divulge in the public statement that the terms of the Advantage Program are even worse than their printing contract. The Advantage Program requires publishers to give Amazon 55% of the list price, pay them $29.95/year, and pay the shipping costs for books going to Amazon.

STRONG DISSENT FROM INDUSTRY REPRESENTATIVES

The Author's Guild, the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), The Small Publishers Association of North America (SPAN), YouWriteOn.com (the U.K.'s leading writer's website) and the National Writer's Union have all issued strong statements denouncing Amazon's attempted power grab of the industry.

OUR STORY
After hearing rumors of Amazon's alleged activities, we spoke to an Amazon/Booksurge representative by phone on March 26th. You can read what transpired that day HERE.

After reviewing all the materials presented to us, and after talking on and off the record with publishers, authors and industry representatives at all levels of this controversy, it is our opinion that Amazon may be positioning itself to directly print and control every book it sells. By forcing publishers to sign their extraordinarly oppressive contract, Amazon gains the power to charge publishers whatever printing and distribution costs it desires, as well as controlling the retail, discount and wholesale prices of the books it prints, and, through this contract, automatically positions itself to control the market.

We cannot say for certain if what Amazon is doing is legal or not at this point; that is for the Federal courts to decide. However, in our opinion, the seemingly covert manner in which Amazon has conducted itself in this matter seems to make their actions highly suspicious.

WHAT'S NEXT?
Amazon has already taken control of publishers' ebook sales on the Amazon.com website by requiring ebooks be available for their ebook reader, the Kindle. Now, Amazon is attempting to take control of the printing of all POD books. We wonder if traditionally published books are next. Some are speculating that Amazon won't stop until they are being paid to print every book they sell.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
You can read more information about this situation HERE, including a time-line of the events that have transpired.

ARE YOU AFFECTED?
According to Amazon's public statement, ALL POD books will be affected. If you are a POD publisher (this includes self-published authors who publish their own POD books through a printer), and would like more information, please contact:

Angela Hoy, Publisher
BookLocker.com
angela - at - booklocker.com

 




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