January 18, 2022

Publishing: Amazon Tries to Wring Big Discounts from Publishers

From The Seattle Times:

McFarland [Publishing] and others in the book world worry that Amazon will use its pricing pressure to crush publishers. They say Amazon’s demands for deeper discounts threaten already-thin profit margins, and some warn about an Amazon monopoly.

Amazon, which declined to answer questions or discuss its relations with publishers for this story, dominates the U.S. market for print books sold online and also leads the market for electronic books. At the same time, it’s working to become a big-name publisher in its own right.

Although publishers rarely criticize companies they do business with, some say they’re speaking out against Amazon partly because they’re offended by its tactics. They describe Amazon’s demands — made in email, with no personal-contact information provided — as overly aggressive and leaving almost no room for discussion.


Robert Franklin, who founded McFarland as a library-oriented publisher in 1979 and remains its president, describes Amazon’s new terms as a financial non-starter. His 55-employee firm publishes nearly 400 titles a year — reference books, monographs and other serious works — mostly for a small audience.

“When you have a book that your gut tells you is going to sell 400 or 500 copies, you don’t have any room to move on pricing. You’re already cut to the bone,” Franklin said.

Read the Complete Seattle Times Article

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.