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New Amazon Policy Could Hurt Authors and Publishers

The Independent Book Publishers Association sent an FYI to their members yesterday, and we wanted to pass it along to you.

Anyone who shops at Amazon is familiar with the “Add to Cart” button on every product page. In the past, options to buy used versions of the product were listed below the buy button. And in the case of books, the buy button automatically defaulted to the publisher, who earned 45 percent of the list price of each book sold.

The publishers passed some of this 45 percent, of course, along to authors in the form of royalties, and the rest went to cover the publisher’s overhead, things like marketing, distribution, and staff salaries. In short, buy clicking the “Add to Cart” button, you were directly supporting those who created the book.

As of March 1, however, Amazon is allowing “third-party sellers to compete for the Buy Box for books in ‘new condition.'”

Now Amazon is giving that priority spot to third-party sellers, relegating the publisher button to a far less favorable position, below the landing page screen line, often last in a list of third-party sellers offering the book for a significantly lower cost in addition to free shipping.

IBPA believes this policy change hurts publishers and authors.

IBPA outlines an eloquent argument against the policy change here, and it’s worth the read. In short, they argue that Amazon is working to drive down the price of books (and devalue creative and intellectual property in general); encouraging piracy; and severely penalizing any independent or back-list author whose books are print-on-demand, as Amazon has suggested one way to “win” the prioritized “Add to Cart” button is to keep a book in stock.

No doubt we’ll hear much more about this in the months to come.

The mission of the Independent Book Publishers Association is to lead and serve the independent publishing community through advocacy, education, and tools for success. A not-for-profit membership organization, IBPA serves and leads the independent publishing community through advocacy, education, and tools for success. With over 3,000 members, IBPA is the largest publishing trade association in the U.S. If you’re an independent publisher, self-published author, small press, or mid-sized publisher, IBPA may be the place for you.

Learn more and join at www.ibpa-online.org.