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Amazon vs Random Penguins

Remember last year how Amazon used stand-over tactics as negotiating tactics with Hachette Book Group but the real losers were the authors and readers?


Round two! Amazon vs Random Penguins

Amazon takes on Random Penguins (Penguin Random House) in the UK. Same deal apparently: Amazon wants Random Penguins to sign a contract that, apparently, will benefit Amazon more while decreasing benefits to Random Penguins.

When Amazon attacked Hachette, who woulda thunk they’d have another publisher in their sights a year later?

Iunno. Maybe EVERYONE?

It appears the issue in dispute is Penguin Random House’s right to set their own prices while allowing Amazon to take a retail commission.

Imagine going to work and your employer saying “I need to raise my profit margin because the millions I’m already making aren’t enough so I’ve decided to pay you 33% of what I’ve was paying you before.” Which isn’t unlike Amazon saying “That book you wanted to sell for $15? I’ve decided you’ll sell it for $5 instead, AND I’ll take a bigger percentage of the sales price.” This is not a specific related example but it is an example related to other stories from authors and publishers about how Amazon controls the prices and decides how much to pay people.

On the upside

GoodReader editor Michael Kozlowski said:

“With so many books in their repertoire comes tremendous negotiating power. There are not many online digital booksellers that could stay viable if suddenly all of the books published by Penguin Random House were pulled.”

Around the time of the Penguin and Random House merger, people speculated that a primary motivation for the merger was to lay a foundation for dealing with Amazon.

Ebook or not to ebook

Ebook sales have also peaked and started to fall; people are returning to paper and the market is stabilising once more. Paper copies are pretty on your bookshelf. Paper copies are not bound up in DRM. You don’t lose paper copies if your eReader dies, is lost, stolen or gets a flat battery.

Paper copies don’t seem to be under dispute; it appears the focus is ebooks.

The only drawback to paper copies is when you move house and have to pack all the pretty books in all the ugly boxes. Not that I’m traumatised or anything…  [Am kinda moving and having housemates move in while partner/minion goes off to the Black Hole of Canberra to enjoy a bitterly cold winter. Wish me luck!]

Other sources:

Amazon vs Random Penguins




Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


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