When I reported yesterday that Baen Books was going to drop the email delivery option from its ebookstore, I downplayed the story by pointing out the context that other retailers and publishers still offered this feature.
I think I may have erred. While I can't report that Amazon is now forbidding _all_ other companies from sending your ebooks to your Kindle, I can tell you that the ban is affecting more than just Baen Books.
Please note that as of May, 2015, Amazon has notified us and other publishers that they will no longer allow publishers to use the “send to Kindle” email feature. We are trying to work with Amazon to convince them to keep this feature for you convenience, but it would appear that your convenience is not a priority.
Toni Weisskopf, the Publisher at Baen Books, confirmed on Baen's Bar (registration required) that Amazon changed the policy. I've also been told by a reader that a third publisher has been impacted, but has not yet announced the news. (Thanks, Michael!)
Using the Kindle email delivery option for commercial purposes has always been against the rules, so this week's news is more disappointing and frustrating than a surprise. Amazon may have been turning a blind eye to the misuse of this feature almost since the first Kindle shipped, but that doesn't mean that they would continue to do so.
Nevertheless, I do find myself surprised as this story continues to evolve. You see, Amazon is not blocking all companies from using the Kindle email feature.
They're just blocking publishers from using it ( so far, anyway).
I've checked, and the ebook bundle site StoryBundle hasn't received any notice from Amazon. NetGalley is also showing this delivery option on its website, and earlier today Mark Coker told me that Smashwords "haven't received any recent communication from them on this".
At this point it looks like Amazon doesn't want publishers to use this feature but hasn't raised a similar objection to retailers and distributors flouting the rules.
Or maybe not.
I'm still waiting to hear back from O'Reilly Media. This technical publisher sells DRM-free ebooks direct and has long offered to deliver ebooks to a customer's Kindle account.
O'Reilly hasn't yet said whether they will continue to offer this feature, so at this point we still don't know just how confused this situation really is.
I'll update this post with O'Reilly's response when I get it. Stay tuned.
P.S. And if you know of another publisher or retailer which has been impacted, please leave a comment. I'd like to better understand the scope of the issue.
image by VinothChandar