Is Amazon 'bullying' publishers?

The online retail giant wants to turn the screws on publishers when it renegotiates its contracts with them. Obviously, they're not happy.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 19 Jan 2016

If a publisher can't provide enough copies of a book for Amazon, shoud it be allowed to publish it itself? That's what it's going to demand of UK publishers when it renegotiates its contracts with independent publishers.

Under its plans, Amazon would require publishers to hand over digital copies of their books so it could use its 'print on demand' technology, which works faster than traditional presses, to create extra copies.

They would also not be allowed to offer other distributors promotions (buy one get one free, etc) without clearing it with Amazon first.

Obviously, publishers aren't happy: one told the BBC Amazon is using 'bullying' tactics - although another suggested its rather aggressive plans might contravene competition rules anyway.

This isn't the first time this has happened: Amazon is already embroiled in a fight with US publisher Hachette, while German publishers have already brought a complaint against it to the competition authorities. And so concerned is the government in France - that business mecca - that it's introduced a law to prevent online sellers from delivering discounted books for free.

Admittedly, its demands sound unreasonable - but let's not forget the importance of the role Amazon plays in the British - indeed, the global - publishing industry. Without Amazon, many publishers might no longer exist. For the British government to introduce French-style laws crippling it would be to put an entire sector at risk.

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