Amazon Backs Down On Demanding Publisher Use Only Its Own Print-On-Demand Solution

from the stand-up-for-yourself dept

Back in 2008, we wrote about Amazon's questionable demand to book publishers that if they wanted to offer print-on-demand books, they had to use Amazon's own POD solution. A few months later, a class action lawsuit was filed, and after a judge refused to throw out the case, it looks like Amazon quickly agreed to settle (thanks Achura). Unfortunately, from the wording of the agreement, even though this was filed as a class action, it's not clear if it only applies to this one publisher or others as well. It is worth noting that Amazon is allowing the publisher to keep using alternative solutions and also agreed to pay the legal fees of the publisher. Amusingly, a monetary reward was on the table, and the publisher turned it down -- and wanted it written into the settlement that it refused to take money -- but Amazon didn't want that mentioned in the official settlement. Still, it seems unfortunate that at least one publisher had to go through all this trouble just to use the print-on-demand offering of its own choosing. And, while it's great for this one publisher, it leaves out the fact that many others caved in and agreed to deals that required them to only use Amazon's solution.

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  1. icon
    Ima Fish (profile), 21 Jan 2010 @ 6:47am

    There are plenty of companies that print books. I can't understand why anyone would voluntarily bind themselves to use only one.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Brad Eleven, 21 Jan 2010 @ 7:03am

    "binding" to a single-source solution

    @Ima: I agree, it's a poor choice, driven by greed & the elusive "perfect deal."

    I think this move, too, relied upon DRM considerations.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), 21 Jan 2010 @ 7:09am


    "There are plenty of companies that print books. I can't understand why anyone would voluntarily bind themselves to use only one."

    Well, I think Amazon's theory was that they saw value in their aggregated market and thought that they could leverage that market to make money printing books. It's kind of a weird theory, because if they drive away book listings, theoretically they drive away part of the very aggregated market that they're trying to leverage.

    I'm still having trouble figuring out how one makes money on writing in a POD environment anyway. I've been spending a great deal of time trying to think of what the author version of a live performance is, and it's tough. Though I did have one idea I thought I'd share to hopefully get the communty's thoughts:

    ***I'm currently about half-way through the first draft of a novel that takes place primarily in a post-apoctalyptic Chicago-land area. I was thinking of releasing an ePub version of the eBook for free, promoting it in full blitz mode. As something more scarce I was going to take some extensive photographs of the real-world locales in which the storyline takes place, to be used in the physical book only and interspersed throughout the book to show the reader the locations I'm talking about.***

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jan 2010 @ 7:46am

    Offering something that can be googled is not a scarce item. Even you planned on doctoring them to mirror the storyline, the photographs of pre-apocalyptic chicago on G-images wont be that far off of the landscape you are describing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), 21 Jan 2010 @ 7:50am


    Hmm, I would be taking the photos myself, so how could they be googled? Some/most of the locales are not tourist spots, something I should have mentioned before.

    But you made me think of something else, what about including a photo of the location as it really is followed by an artistic rendition of what it's become in my post-apocalyptic setting?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Allen Harkleroad, 21 Jan 2010 @ 8:27am

    Amazon's print on demand

    I use Amazon's Createspace POD. It's a great platform, as a small publisher we've realized a tremendous savings and wider reach (even beyond Amazon) using their services.

    I can have a book uploaded and within generally a week have it available in print. For use the print quality (both interiors and covers) have been excellent.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    RobShaver, 21 Jan 2010 @ 8:38am

    Kindle Is The Same Thing ... Single-vendor Lockin

    That's one reason I'd never buy a Kindle ... like Apple/iTunes, the Kindle locks me into buying only from Amazon. Why would I pay $260 to rent books from Amazon? (It's not buying them because I can't move them to a any other book-reader device or back them up on my computer or resell them or give them away or lend them.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    zegota (profile), 21 Jan 2010 @ 10:17am

    Re: Kindle Is The Same Thing ... Single-vendor Lockin

    That's not actually true. Backing up your eBooks to your computer is officially supported. True, Amazon proved they can revoke your license -- but as long as you turn of your wireless connection, it's not an issue.

    You can't lend books with Kindle at the moment, but I'd expect that they will follow the Nook's lead and make this an option in the next version.

    Also, the "locked-in" to buying only from Amazon is not really true (it supports conversion from ePub and PDF using both official and unofficial tools), and it hasn't been true of iTunes for a long time (I don't use it often, but iTunes offers run-of-the-mill mp3s for almost all of its catalogue, right?)

    You're 100% right about not being able to resell them, but, unfortunately, I seriously doubt this will ever become a reality for digital goods, since it's too easy for companies to prevent.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Andrew D. Todd, 21 Jan 2010 @ 1:29pm

    Author Performance.

    The classic novelists' form of performance is readings and signings. It works something like this: you go to a really small town. The local community college or high school sponsors a lecture, paid for with public money. In the case of a novelist, the lecture probably works out to reading a chapter of your book. They may sell your book in the lobby, or the local bookseller might run a book-signing. At all events, you sign copies. It's not a bed of roses, of course. To keep your traveling expenses within reason, you will probably need to live in a motor home for weeks or months on end. I'm told that this system works better, the smaller and more remote the town is. You wand the kind of place where the high school English teacher, the person who actually controls the lecture fee, is desperate to talk to anyone, anyone, who can talk about anything except football, that kind of place. The kind of town which Zenna Henderson wrote about, somewhere in the Nevada desert, a couple of hundred miles by road from anything you would call a city.

    Of course, you could turn around and write a book about your travels, in the tradition of John Steinbeck and William Least Heat Moon.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Rooker, 21 Jan 2010 @ 2:01pm

    I read through the original announcement about what Amazon was trying to pull and was appalled. It sounded like Amazon had hired the mob to come up with that idea. If that isn't extortion, then it must be a near thing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    lrobbo (profile), 12 Jun 2012 @ 11:06am

    Amazon, not so nice as they may have seemed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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