In the UK a number of publishers spoken to as part of The Bookseller's investigations into the Hachette dispute said Amazon was also now putting them under "heavy pressure". According to the sources, new demands include adjusting terms so that e-books and physical book terms have parity; the adjustment is said to be in the direction of "p", which traditionally attracts a higher percentage for the retailer compared with "e". Amazon is also understood to be targeting academic terms, which have historically been more favourable to the publisher. The retailer also wants to impose a ceiling on the digital list price of e-books in preparation for 2015 when the retailer will have to begin imposing the standard 20% rate of VAT on digital titles.
Another clause of particular note requires publishers to guarantee they have books in stock, allowing Amazon to do print-on-demand editions to customers – with extra terms benefits – should books be out of supply. The clause has echoes of a demand made in 2008 that small publishers use its POD service, with Amazon arguing at that time that it could “provide a better, more timely customer experience if the p.o.d. titles are printed inside our own fulfilment centres”. Publishers are worried that the clause would allow Amazon to effectively take over their stock-control.
Those are quite different contract terms than what the latest leak has revealed about Amazon's negotiations with Hachette over the weekend. According to one of the NYTimes's unnamed sources Amazon is negotiating with Hachette over co-op fees, with the retailer teasing out each service they can provide and asking to be paid for it specifically.
it's not known why Amazon is seeking different terms in the UK, but they are also rumored to be new most favored nation clauses.
Amazon is also reportedly seeking MFN clauses which include not just the option for Amazon to match prices with their competitors but which also gives Amazon the option to match whatever terms a publisher might get for a new business arrangement, for example with a subscription service.
If that is true then it could be a sign that Amazon is already looking ahead to their next ebook effort, or at the very least they don't want to be a step behind when someone else comes up with a new idea for the ebook market. And that is a telling clue of where Amazon thinks the book industry is going.
On a related note, what do you think the POD clause means?
I'm not sure if Amazon is that confident that their printing quality is that good, or if they just want to guarantee 100% availability for the books they carry.
image by hnnbz