President of the second-largest independent book distributor Independent Publishers Group (IPG) Mark Suchomel said in an e-mail alert yesterday, "I am disappointed to report that Amazon.com has failed to renew its agreement with IPG to sell Kindle titles." As of yesterday, Suchomel says, Amazon has taken down all IPG ebooks from its site, though they continue to sell print books from the distributor's clients. (Our own check confirms that Kindle editions are missing for IPG titles, complete with the standard box to "tell the publisher!" you would like to read this book on Kindle. Individual Kindle hyperlinks now result in error messages.)
Suchomel writes: "Amazon.com is putting pressure on publishers and distributors to change their terms for electronic and print books to be more favorable toward Amazon. Our electronic book agreement recently came up for renewal, and Amazon took the opportunity to propose new terms for electronic and print purchases that would have substantially changed your revenue from the sale of both. It's obvious that publishers can't continue to agree to terms that increasingly reduce already narrow margins. I have spoken directly with many of our clients and every one of them agrees that we need to hold firm with the terms we now offer. I'm not sure what has changed at Amazon over the last few months that they now find it unacceptable to buy from IPG at terms that are acceptable to our other customers." Suchomel reiterated to us that the company's terms of sale for ebooks have not changed.
Suchomel suggests to clients that they help spread the word to consumers and direct ebook customers to the accounts that still sell the titles. "There is no better way to show our valued customers how much we appreciate doing business with them than to send orders their way."
He suggests that other accounts should be reminded of their "favorable competitive position on our electronic titles." And he reminds accounts to "practice what you preach. Support accounts that support your business. Ask the organizations you support to do the same." Also "remind family and friends of the value to our society of independent voices and ideas, and that independent publishers and bookstores need to be supported or they will go away."
At the same time, Suchomel writes: "Remember that Amazon continues to be an important account that sells a lot of units. This is a business decision on Amazon's part, and hopefully they will soon decide to reverse it and buy at our standard terms."
In the meantime, here are links to Nook versions of a few titles that IPG says on their website are among their digital bestsellers:
Boardwalk Empire, by Nelson Johnson
Chernobyl Murders: Book One in the Lazlo Horvath Thriller Series, by Michael Beres
I'm with the Band, by Pamela Des Barres
All In: From Refugee Camp to Poker Champ, by Jerry Yang
Snow Blind: Book Four in the PI Julie Collins series, by Lori Armstrong