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November 6, 2013 • eBooks, News

Amazon Offers Indie Bookstores a Small Cut to Sell eBooks, But Will Anyone Bite?


It’s no secret that “Amazon” is a dirty word among independent booksellers. They’ve fought against carrying Amazon-published books, railed against Kindles, and fought Amazon’s no-internet-sales-tax stance. But Amazon really wants to win over the indie booksellers, so they’ve rolled out Amazon Source, an affiliate Kindle program for indie booksellers. Because when someone hates you, they’ll totally sell your competing product…

The program isn’t a terrible deal for those who are interested. Stores will receive a 10% cut of any eBooks purchased by a customer who buys a Kindle from the store for two years, and Amazon will accept unsold Kindles back for 6 months, so if the program flops the store isn’t stuck with unsold, expensive Kindle stock. If an independent bookstore was looking to get into the ebook business, this is a pretty painless way to do it.

On the other hand, it’s not so different from what Amazon did to Borders many years ago. Borders didn’t have the resources or knowledge to run their own website, so was actually a partnership with Amazon for several years. During that time, Amazon collected all sorts of valuable data about Borders customers, and by the time was an independent website, all those Borders customers had become Amazon customers. I know that my personal purchases of paper books took a big dive when I switched to eBooks, and assuming I am not that unusual, this is not such a great deal for the independents. 10% for two years, and then when the time is up, your old customers are still buying eBooks, you’re not getting any revenue, and the market for paper books has shrunk even more…

It will be interesting to see if Amazon has many bookstores interested in this program, or if others will look at it and smell a raw deal! You can check out the full Amazon press release here.


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