PMA, The Independent Publishers Association, which represents more than 4,000 independent publishers, has issued a statement denouncing Amazon’s recent policy aimed at publishers who use print-on-demand (POD) technology to sell directly on Amazon.com. The online retailer has directed that these publishers must either print their POD titles exclusively through Amazon’s BookSurge subsidiary for fulfillment of orders placed through its Web site, or incur additional cost to print elsewhere and maintain inventory with Amazon.
“This policy imposes a significant financial burden on tens of thousands of small and independent publishers who can least afford it,” says Terry Nathan, PMA executive director. “Without the opportunity to benefit from competitive pricing, small publishers risk, at best, an expensive and needless overhaul of their manufacturing process and, at worst, the loss of their livelihood.
“On behalf of all the small and independent publishers whose businesses are in jeopardy, we urge Amazon to reconsider its position,” continues Nathan. “Over the years, [Amazon.com Chairman and CEO] Jeff Bezos and his company have given small and independent publishers a level playing field to compete with the largest of companies. Suddenly, this magnificent playing field has been converted into a ‘members only’ club, to the detriment of those very publishers who have contributed to Amazon’s success. We will continue to monitor developments in the weeks ahead.”
In an open letter dated March 31, which is posted on Amazon.com, the Amazon.com Books Team addressed its new policy, citing customer service as the motivation behind the move. “Simply put, we can provide a better, more timely customer experience if the POD titles are printed inside our own fulfillment centers,” the letter stated. “In addition, printing these titles in our own fulfillment centers saves transportation costs and transportation fuel.”
In the letter, the Books Team likened the POD policy to other initiatives that initially received negative feedback from publishers, including posting negative customer reviews on Amazon.com and offering used copies of books alongside the new editions. The letter indicated that Amazon would review the policy “only if we can find an even better way to serve our customers faster.”