Hard on the heels of the news that B&N won’t stock books published by Amazon is this moment of temporary insanity. Publisher’s Weekly has confirmation from a senior manager at Books-a-Million that this 250-strong bookstore chainis following in B&N’s footsteps.
Specifically, they won’t carry any of the books distributed by HMH under the New Harvest imprint. This imprint was launched as part of an expansion of Amazon’s partnership with HMH. And yes, this is a stupid move.
When B&N made this decision, they did it out of the principle of having the same titles available both in print and digital. They have a huge ebookstore with a significant chunk of the US ebook market, and there is some sense in defending it this way. By refusing the books, B&n struck back at their strongest competitor. It’s only a moral victory, but it is still a victory.
BAM, on the other hand, doesn’t have an ebookstore worth mentioning. BAM is not one of the big 4 US ebookstores (Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Kobo); they are one of the many that when combined make up about 5% of the market. What’s more, BAM doesn’t even sell their own ereader; they sell the Nook.
BAM has no ebookstore to defend, so there’s not much of reason to decline Amazon’s books. This move looks more like a general cluelessness than a principled stand. It’s also coming from less than healthy company, and I suppose that we might now know why BAM has been losing money these past several years.