Amazon to print out of stock books on demand?


Amazon has long been the nemesis of booksellers everywhere – largely because it uses its huge market share to attempt to ensure favourable terms for any deals. But does this latest renegotiation go too far?


According to The Bookseller, the company has introduced new clauses into its publisher contracts, which would entitle the company to print out-of-stock books on demand. This means that rather than have to wait for the publishers to supply more, Amazon will print off a fresh copy for you.

Whilst this may sound clever, print-on-demand is still a variable technology – and widely viewed as less high quality than a ‘professional’ printing. Crucially, this puts even more power and cash into Amazon’s hands.

Other clauses in the new contract apparently force ‘parity’ in ebook and physical book pricing – the former of which are usually more expensive due to ebooks being charged VAT. This means that whilst the price of ebooks could come down, it would leave a smaller slice of the profits for the publishing company.

And there’s one other clause that is causing controversy: demands that books cannot be sold for a lower price than they are on Amazon anywhere. This means that if a publisher cuts prices on (say) its own website, it would have to follow suit on Amazon.

With such ballsy move, is Amazon abusing its privileged position as the market leader in the book and ebook market? Is this bullying, or just good business? Let us know what you think in the comments.

James O’Malley
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