Amazon and Target used to be good buddies. Amazon helped run Target’s website, Target was the first place outside of Amazon.com to sell Kindles. It looks like that friendship is over, as Target has announced rather abruptly that mid-May they will be dropping the entire Kindle line from Target stores due to a “conflict of interest”. However, arch-rival NOOK will be still be carried by Target, making it clear this is specific to Amazon.
So what changed? Target isn’t saying, and neither is Amazon, but it isn’t hard to read between the lines here. Amazon was the big winner in this partnership, and Target did not benefit equally. Amazon had a place to promote and sell the Kindle, which ties customers to Amazon’s main business-undercutting brick and mortar stores with lower prices. Target had one hot item for their electronics department, but it wasn’t an exclusive, and it was far from a major draw. Somehow, I think the “conflict of interest” was simply that Target felt Amazon’s existence didn’t mesh well with Target’s future.
It is interesting timing for Target, and very, very fascinating that they timed this the same week that B&N received a boost from Microsoft (and that the NOOK gets a special mention as being an active inventory item at Target). Effectively, the ebook market is slowly moving against Amazon. It isn’t that they are attacking them, but they aren’t going to make it easy for them either. It’s the nature of the business, and in a volatile market like eBooks, there are plenty of opportunities for both sides to draw blood. While I don’t think the end of agency pricing is the catalyst for all of this, it is eyebrow-raising timing that the proponents of agency pricing claimed it was to keep Amazon in line…and now more and more natural business obstacles and challenges seem to rise against Amazon. Almost as though the free market is working!
What is not clear is what will happen to the Kindle accessories Target sells. I assume the Kindles themselves will simply go back to Amazon, but I plan to check my local Target starting later this week, just in case there are some good accessory deals!
Did you buy your Kindle at Target? Will this affect you in any way? Let us know in the comments!