Parallel protests of Amazon


Image - iStockphoto: hfng
Image – iStockphoto: hfng

Pitchforks United: The protests expand… As I write this, the number of signatories to the new German-language offener brief an Amazonopen letter to Amazon, has jumped by nearly 200 in a single day.

There were 1,188 yesterday. There are 1,354 today.

Melissa Eddy at The New York Times takes care to point out to us that those supporters include 2004 Nobel laureate Elfriede Jelinek and other high-profile figures in European literature.

Another day, another open letter. Angst across the waters. The worries widen, and more of these events will, of course, eventually command more public attention. At some point, the rank-and-file customer will become aware of what has so far been frequently deemed an intra-industry struggle.

Those who do pay attention will find that these protests intensify the two-track nature of the issues at play here.

  • Who’s talking about ebook pricing (and sales commission) as the key bone of contention?
  • And who’s contending that the only problem is “negotiation tactics” that penalize customers and authors, not the companies?
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Laura Hazard Owen

Our colleague and recent #FutureChat co-host Laura Hazard Owen, news director at GigaOM, elaborates on the latest protest this way:

Book prices in Germany are fixed, so discounting ebooks isn’t allowed. However — as in the U.S. [in the ongoing contractual dispute with Hachette] — Amazon wants a larger commission on the Bonnier ebooks it sells. In June, the German Publishers and Booksellers Association (Börsenverein) asked German antitrust authorities to investigate the matter. In response, Amazon said at the time, “[Bonnier is] asking us to pay them significantly more when we sell a digital edition than when we sell a print edition of the same title.”

The letter, as Owen wrote, went to German, Austrian and Swiss publications Monday.

Expecting, as we are, to hear more about it at Frankfurt Book Fair, 8 to 12th October, we watch now as the text of this new missive of misgiving arrives, a near cousin to recent petitions in the States.

Bonnier, started in 1804 by Gerhard Bonnier in Copenhagen, today is based in Stockholm and operates several publishing firms, as Bonnier Media Deutschland, in Germany.

So is it the pricing of ebooks? Or is it the negotiating tactics?



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By Porter Ander­son | @Porter_Anderson

The FutureBook: ‘Everything’ vs. everyone: Parallel protests of Amazon

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