Is Your “Buy” Button in Jeopardy?

Back on February 2, 2010, I gave my comments on a skirmish that happened between Macmillan (a large publishing house) and Amazon.com. In this battle over the price of ebooks, both entities were wrestling for control.

Amazon’s strategy in the skirmish was to remove all “buy” buttons from all books published by Macmillan listed on their website. This is not a new tactic for Amazon.com. In 2008, Amazon used the same tactic when they wanted to force all sellers of POD (print-on-demand) titles to use their own POD service, BookSurge (now CreateSpace), in order to be able to sell their titles directly on Amazon.com.

After Amazon removed all “buy” buttons from POD books in an attempt to send business to themselves, Booklocker (a large POD press) brought an antitrust class action lawsuit against Amazon over this issue. The lawsuit was recently settled and all Booklocker books’ “buy” buttons were restored.

Booklocker’s goal with their lawsuit was to show Amazon that “covert efforts aimed at forcing POD publishers to pay Amazon (via CreateSpace) to print their books is not the way responsible corporate citizens should act.”

The Authors Guild, an organization that advocates for effective copyright, fair contracts, and free expression for published authors, feels that Amazon’s covert actions happen more than they should. Since Amazon.com is the top seller of books on the Internet, the Authors Guild felt they should help authors with this issue. Toward this end, the organization has launched a new website that allows authors and publishers to monitor their books on Amazon.com and receive notification when a status change (such as a “buy” button removed) happens to one of your books.

This new website is www.whomovedmybuybutton.com.

If you have a concern about the ongoing status of your books on Amazon.com, I urge you to sign up and let this site monitor your books’ status for you.


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