Angela and her husband, Richard, are the driving forces behind Writersweekly.com, the largest writers' e-zine, and Booklocker.com, the print-on-demand publisher of many titles. They have stepped forward to take on Amazon.com in the wake of Amazon's decision to pressure small publishers to use only its BookSurge print-on-demand facilities. They were gracious enough to answer some of my questions on the topic. I encourage you to go to their website (see link below) and to follow this as it unfolds. This directly affects you. It certainly affects me.
1. Can you give us a brief synopsis of what Amazon has done?
BL: Earlier this year, Amazon began contacting publishers using print on demand (POD) technology telling them they need to pay Amazon to print their books or their active buy buttons would be removed from Amazon.com. These weren't just self-publishing service companies. They also included some traditional publishers, including University of Pennsylvania Press.
2. Why is this a bad thing for independent publishers?
BL: Publishers should not have to pay the world's largest online retailer to print their books...as a condition of having those books sold directly by that retailer.
3. You have sued Amazon. What can you tell us about the lawsuit?
BL: A time-line of events, a copy of our lawsuit filing, updates, and comments from authors, publishers, and book buyers can be seen here:
We believe Amazon's practice of requiring POD publishers to pay Amazon to print their books in order to have Amazon.com sell those books directly to customers is an illegal tying arrangement and a violation of anti-trust laws.
4. The ultimate question: Why you? There are many companies that could and should be doing what you have chose to do. Again, why you?
BL: I have to be honest with you. I was stunned when none of the big guys, our largest competitors, stepped up to the plate to take this on for everyone in the industry. After speaking to a few of them, it became clear that everyone was waiting for someone else to step forward and lead the fight. Why us? Heck, I thought, why not us? We'd already publicized Amazon's covert shenanigans, which forced them to issue a public statement about their activities, so we weren't on their good side anyway.
We were happy to take the reins and we're proud to be a part of the growing public sentiment against Amazon's power push against small and independent publishers.
5. Where do you see all of this going?
BL: Well, once things hit the courts, they start to crawl, as you probably know. While we'll have to wait awhile, I'm confident that either Amazon will come to its senses and withdraw their ridiculous plans to take over the printing of POD books, or that, despite Amazon's pretty verbiage, the court will see the company's recent actions for what they really are.