Via Making Light, I learned of Amazon's pulling every "Buy" link for any book published by Macmillan, due to an argument between the two companies over e-book pricing. No, really, this happened:
As Venture Beat and other blogs have noticed Friday evening, books from Macmillan, one of the largest publishers in the United States, have vanished from Amazon.com.First the 1984 debacle, and now this. Which is just crazy. Egomaniacally crazy.
The question is why.
I’ve talked to a person in the industry with knowledge of the dispute who says the disappearance is the result of a disagreement between Amazon.com and book publishers that has been brewing for the last year. Macmillan, like other publishers, has asked Amazon to raise the price of electronic books from $9.99 to around $15. Amazon is expressing its strong disagreement by temporarily removing Macmillan books, said this person, who did not want to be quoted by name because of the sensitivity of the matter.
N.b. that Amazon pretty quickly changed its mind. Whatever. That they even thought that screwing their customers and the authors whose books their customers buy was acceptable ... that was waaaaaayy too much. As I just e-mailed them when cancelling my account, they're supposed to be making money by serving their customers, and they obviously have forgotten what that means.
There are just too many places on the internet to buy books etc. without having to buy them from a company like Amazon. I will spend a little more for my books and stuff, probably. And I will be happy to do so.
... Amazon's spin: We were being bullied!
Macmillan, one of the "big six" publishers, has clearly communicated to us that, regardless of our viewpoint, they are committed to switching to an agency model and charging $12.99 to $14.99 for e-book versions of bestsellers and most hardcover releases.If Amazon didn't want to sell Macmillan's e-books for $15 a pop, that was fine, though I would think the market could decide whether the e-books were worth that.
We have expressed our strong disagreement and the seriousness of our disagreement by temporarily ceasing the sale of all Macmillan titles. We want you to know that ultimately, however, we will have to capitulate and accept Macmillan's terms because Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles, and we will want to offer them to you even at prices we believe are needlessly high for e-books. Amazon customers will at that point decide for themselves whether they believe it's reasonable to pay $14.99 for a bestselling e-book. We don't believe that all of the major publishers will take the same route as Macmillan. And we know for sure that many independent presses and self-published authors will see this as an opportunity to provide attractively priced e-books as an alternative.
But pulling ALL Macmillan titles? That's gangsta.
UPDATED with link to real legal analysis! (via Stross).