1. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Amazon withholding books

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Mckk, May 10, 2014.

    Came across this article - some publisher disputes that caused Amazon to limit Hachette books' availability.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/09/technology/hachette-says-amazon-is-delaying-delivery-of-some-books.html?_r=0

    Thought this is quite relevant and it's an interesting discussion too - do you think Amazon's got far too big? How can other publishers and booksellers compete? (is there someone you think is giving Amazon significant competition right now?) While Amazon has contributed to making self-publishing easier and making books more available etc, for one giant company to hold so much monopoly over the market can't possibly be a good thing, surely.
     
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  2. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Amazon has been doing this kind of crap for a long, long time. Why do you think they got so big?
     
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  3. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Thanks for that article. Good to know. I, too, have been worried about their monopoly. I try to buy books from shops when I can, but so many shops have gone out of business it's difficult to find any that aren't also big conglomerates. Sad. Making stuff easy for the many often makes it difficult for the few, doesn't it?
     
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  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    The problem applies to ebooks as well, folks.

    I'll be frank and tell you that while I have never once, in all honesty, illegally downloaded a book for free, I have most definitely "digitally lied" as to my personal whereabouts in order to purchase books from non-U.S. online sellers. I wanted a copy of Stars in my Pocket Like Grains of Sand by Samuel R. Delany (spectacular book) when I found out it was finally available as an ebook. Amazon U.S. had the listing but showed it as "unavailable". An ebook, unavailable. Give me a break. It's a file, not a physical book. I got it instead from a bookseller in Oz after making myself look like that's where I was. *shrug* I regret nothing. I paid for the book, supported the author and Amazon lost the sale.
     
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  5. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Sometimes this sort of thing is affected by tax requirements, etc. For example, while paperback and hardback books don't incur tax here in the UK, eBooks do. That's probably why they're not available internationally. If you find a distributor of eBooks that will cross international borders, then perhaps Amazon is at fault. But I'd give them the benefit of the doubt on this one.

    Just as a sideline, another thing that doesn't cross the Pond are toys and games. It's impossible to get a game of Parcheesi sent to the UK, because the copyright clashes with the insanely dull game of Ludo. Ludo looks superficially similar to Parcheesi, but is really only for small children. I had to go through quite a few contortions to get my Parcheesi game. Trouble is, after playing it here at my house, now all my British friends want one too!
     
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  6. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    But I'm not "international" to Amazon U.S. There should be nothing blocking me from buying from them and in fact I've purchased uncounted eBooks from them for my Kindle. Never had an issue. But this one listing was there to be seen, but showing as "currently unavailable". The bookseller I did finally buy it from who had it available didn't cross international borders to sell to me; I crossed borders with a spoofed digital "visa" to buy from them. ;)
     
  7. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Oh, fair enough. I misunderstood...
     
  8. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's the sort of thing Supermarket chains have been doing to suppliers for decades.
     
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  9. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    So if buyers are smart, they'll look for other sellers that have immediate availability. Vote with your feet.
     
  10. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Amazon's behaviour is quite awful, but completely in line with the profit obsessed world we live in. I buy a lot of stuff from Amazon, because it is super convenient. I would be more than happy to spread my business to other, just as convenient, online 'everything' stores, I'd even pay a bit more, within reason, as long as they behave more ethically then Amazon. I can't see why people aren't starting up such businesses all over the place.
     
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  11. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    Mainly because of the fact that Amazon incorporated exactly twenty years ago and has yet to show a profit. They're the biggest mainly because they have plowed all revenue into growth. Genius on Bezos' part.
     
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  12. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    There are numerous places where one can beat/match pricing/shipping with Amazon, depending on what you're looking for. I only use Amazon to find exactly what I'm looking for, then google to find somewhere else to buy it. It takes a little more time, but I haven't had to buy from Amazon for ages.
     
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  13. Edward M. Grant
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    Edward M. Grant Contributing Member

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    Uh, it's called 'regional publication rights'. Amazon will happily sell you any print book from any store, but the publishers wanted them to not sell ebooks to other countries. So don't blame Amazon for that.
     
  14. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Once again, it was Amazon U.S. wherein I saw the listing. I live in the U.S.
     
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  15. FrankieWuh
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    FrankieWuh Active Member

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    Me too. They are ceasing to be competitive with blu rays, electricals, kids toys and so on. I haven't bought a book from them for two years and a ebook for a year (I've gone from using a kindle to an Ipad, something that can read any ebook format you can throw at it, rather than Amazon's monopoly-machine). When I look to self-publishing in the future I will make sure other platforms are available than just KDP and readers won't pay any more for it.

    I don't mind using Amazon. But I do mind Amazon using me.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2014
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  16. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Wreybies : What you're describing is driving me crazy. I need a 'Vampire Lestat' e-book, iBooks doesn't have it and Amazon won't sell it to me because I live outside the US! It's cruel and unnecessary to mess with people in this way. It's just a file, fcs!
     
  17. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Booksellers are going to be forced to play catchup and dump these old rules concerning where you live and who you sell to. These rules answer to old dynamics and, frankly, they are easily circumvented. In my case, I live within the region the ebook was being listed but for whatever reason it was being shown as "unavailable", which is different to dealing with books being sold from a different region that are available but exclude you as a customer for being out of region. In the end, the book I bought was from a "little guy" bookseller in Oz that, once I satisfied their IP requirements [​IMG], didn't give me any guff as to where my credit card was coming from. ;)
     
  18. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I thought I'd look for an Amazon answer on the PR issue but the question on the seller forum says "unanswered".

    https://sellercentral.amazon.com/forums/message.jspa?messageID=2581216

    What it sounds like is the seller has to list the book with an international shipping option. They may not have done that, and or, that may not be a correct answer.

    I see some inaccurate answers there. "Uncle Leroy" says he needed a customs form for Guam so he assumed he needed one for PR, but you don't. I shipped a game to an EBay buyer in PR last month and it was no different than shipping to HI or AK.

    This answer made sense to me because I can now print international shipping label whereas before I could not print them with my Mac:
    While the posts suggest the seller needs to enable different options, another says it didn't help.

    This answer was intriguing:
    Would that be true with the book you tried to buy, @Wreybies?
     
  19. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    In my case, I don't think so. o_O I have my account set to U.S. as my country which Amazon happily accepts and has correct options for U.S. (country) and then Puerto Rico as my "state". I happily buy books from them all the time. Mostly to replenish books I had to leave behind in physical form when I moved to Puerto Rico because the cost to ship them (by weight) was ridiculous. Every once in a while I come across a reference to a book I once owned and I pine to own it again, and I go and buy it. :) Also, the issue with "regions"and "zones" shows up differently on the Amazon page. I've run into it before and the item displays as available, but when I go to check out, that's when I get blocked from buying. I get a message about the whole zone/region thing. In this particular instance with Stars in my Pocket Like Grains of Sand, the issue never even got that far; it simply displayed as unavailable, exactly as any out-of-stock item would (remember we're talking about an ebook, not a paper book). This particular ebook, in this particular instance did not seem to be a matter of zoning, which again, I am very familiar with since Puerto Rico seems to be such a zone of limbo for so many vendors, as is evidenced by the very quotes you pulled.:meh:
     
  20. Edward M. Grant
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    Edward M. Grant Contributing Member

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    Back on the original topic, a Hatchette author says that Hatchette appear to be slow delivering the books Amazon ordered from them:

    http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2014/an-authors-perspective-on-the-hachette-amazon-battle/

    So who knows who is the guilty party here?
     
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  21. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    But how does it benefit Hatchette to arbitrarily delay shipping? That's cutting their nose off to spite their face. Amazon, on the other hand, is well known for their heavy-handed tactics when dealing with publishers, particularly while in negotiations.

    That said, the mention of "small orders" explains a lot. Many companies will withhold shipping of small orders to the same recurring customer until they have enough to make shipping economical. I'm quite sure Amazon does the same thing.
     
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  22. Daniel
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    Daniel I'm sure you've heard the rumors. Founder Staff Contributor

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    I don't see how Hatchette would benefit from delaying orders. Amazon might in contract negotiations for pricing or order quantities.

    Though it might seem a little underhanded, I don't blame Amazon. Generally they provide one of the best experiences for the buyer; we're not seeing competition spring up because no one can yet compete since people are largely satisfied with their Amazon purchasing experience. If Amazon continues to get flack and opening uses underhanded tactics, that could present an opportunity for new businesses to fill the void, but it's difficult to match Amazon's competitive advantage.

    The ebook distribution limitations based on borders is a bit absurd.
     
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  23. Edward M. Grant
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    Edward M. Grant Contributing Member

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    Not if it lets them blame Amazon for something Amazon didn't do. Yeah, it would make little sense to sensible people, but neither does an obviously illegal conspiracy to fix e-book prices.

    As I said, it's hard to tell who's in the wrong here.
     
  24. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Or Amazon has done what other huge corporations have - used underhanded bullying tactics with their suppliers (and potential competitors) in order to sell cheaper. Personally, I use Amazon to find what I'm looking for and then buy it elsewhere - and typically, because I'm not worried about spending an extra 10 minutes before ordering, I can either get it for the same or lower price. I have purchased from them in the past, and frankly I didn't find the experience any better than other stores. It's more name recognition and convenience, not that they treat their customers (or suppliers) any better.
     
  25. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Or, in order to increase profit margins, if not immediately, then as soon as the competition is sufficiently squashed. After that, you can expect prices to rise rapidly.

    Think about it, why would Amazon need prices to fall below what the market will bear? Is it out of some altruistic desire to share reading or other products with the masses? I think not.
     

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