Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) reported this morning that Amazon is renegotiating its contracts with Bonnier, a Swedish publishing conglomerate. Bonnier owns several German publishers (including Ullsteinhaus, Piper, Berlin, Carlsen), and Amazon is using tricks similar to the ones used against Hachette here in the US.
According to FAZ, Amazon is reducing the number of copies of Bonnier titles they carry in their warehouses, adding long shipping delays to newly ordered books.
Sources say that Amazon is seeking not just new terms for their book contract with Bonnier but also new terms for their ebook contract. The retailer is reportedly pressuring Bonnier into offering a steeper discount on ebooks. Rather than pay Bonnier the accepted industry standard 70%, Amazon wants to reduce that to only 50% to 60%.
And that’s not good news for anyone other than Amazon.
I know some might expect me to defend Amazon here in much the same way I took their side in the Hachette dispute, but one key difference between the Bonnier and Hachette negotiations is that with the latter there is a potential upside for consumers. Consumers stand to gain nothing from the Bonnier dispute.
In the US, Amazon’s fight is against a publisher which had previously conspired to raise ebook prices and restrict competition. If Amazon wins it means means lower book prices in the long run, but that probably will not happen in Germany.
Germany has fixed price book laws; publishers set the retail price and retailers are not allowed to discount their books more than (I think) 10%. As a result, any money that Amazon squeezes out of a publisher ends up in Amazon’s pocket, and not in the pocket of consumers.