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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Independent Publisher Gives Insider View of Amazon's Rustling

Curt Matthews, CEO of IPG
(Independent Publishers
Group)
Tonight I post an independent book publisher's view on the current, legal, wrangling clusterfuck playing out RE Amazon and the internal ramifications to his very business. A good insider's view.

Please read my yesterday's post Is the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division Allowing the Buying of Publishing Monopolies? for more background. 

Chicago Tribune reporter, Corilyn Shropshire, says:

The little guys stand up to Amazon

Book distributor IPG fights for say in e-book pricing

Curt Matthews is pushing back.

The chief executive of the Chicago-based Independent Publishers Group is up against an almost insurmountable force, Amazon.com. The online retailer rakes off half the cover price of IPG's e-books and is demanding an even larger share. For now, Matthews isn't budging.

"This fight was going to happen," said Matthews, a soft-spoken, bearded and bespectacled man who once taught 19th-century American literature at Northwestern University. "And our judgment was that it was better to have it happen sooner rather than later."

The standoff began late last month when IPG's contract came up for renewal. IPG distributes roughly 50,000 titles for about 400 small publishers, including the best sellers "Outwitting Squirrels'' by Bill Adler and "The Covenant with Black America" edited by Tavis Smiley.

When Matthews balked at what he called tougher terms, Amazon pulled from its website nearly 5,000 of IPG's electronic books. As of Friday, the two sides weren't talking. The stakes are high, said Matthews, who acknowledged concern that without sufficient revenues from e-books, independent publishers eventually could be driven out of business.

"There's not enough money to keep this chain alive, from author to publisher and retailer," Matthews said.

Amazon did not respond to requests for comment.

The faceoff between IPG and Amazon is part of a larger battle playing out over who will determine the pricing of e-books, the digital version of books.

E-books have boomed in the five years since Amazon's Kindle debuted. The device allows users to almost instantly download books, and by being first in the market ahead of similar tablet-like machines such as the Nook from Barnes & Noble and the iPad from Apple, analysts say, Amazon's Kindle has claimed 60 percent of the e-reading market.

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