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Publishers feel Amazon a bully during contract negotiations

As Amazon continues to seek more favorable terms in its lengthy battle with UK publishers, smaller publishing companies have cried foul, calling the web giant a bully. In another round of contract negotiations, Amazon wants the right to print books itself when and if publishers fail to provide the necessary stock. But that’s not all. They also want these same publishers to match pricing deals it offers to other distributors.

Another industry clause, “most favored nation”(MFN) proposal, is a clause that requests publishers not to offer promotions to any distributors without also offering the same promotions to Amazon. This clause is meant to include discount book-selling on the publisher’s own website. To add insult to injury, the company is also demanding that all publishers inform Amazon of any eBook deals with other clients before offering, and extend those same terms to them.

There are hundreds of publishing companies throughout the UK. One mid-sized publisher warned that Amazon was destroying the publishing industry and accused them of bullying, saying the company has become increasingly ruthless in its negotiations. Another company referred to Amazon’s terms as “ a form of assisted suicide.”

Amazon has not responded to the issue.

In recent contract proposals with other independent UK book publishers, the company has introduced several new clauses, among these being the right for Amazon to print-on-demand. The Seattle-based company wants rights that will allow them to print its own copies of a book if a publisher runs out by utilizing its print-on-demand equipment. This new clause also requires that publishers give up the electronic versions of their titles as well.

The print-on-demand process, which has proven faster than traditional printing presses, is generally thought of as an inferior product. This raises concern with publishers as they worry customers would blame them, and not Amazon’s print-on-demand technology, for the poorer quality.

Several UK publishers who deal with Amazon say that verbal agreements, rather than documented contracts, are a company preference for Amazon.


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