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Amazon pulls 5,000 titles from Kindle store in dispute with distributor

Amazon has removed 5,000 e-book titles from its Kindle store after it failed to reach an agreement with distributor Independent Publishers Group (IPG) over the terms of a new contract. IPG was founded in Chicago 41 years ago and entered the e-book business in 2001. It’s the second largest independent book distributor in the US.

According to a Chicago Tribune report, Amazon began to pull IPG’s titles from its e-book store at the start of this week when discussions between the two companies failed to reach a satisfactory conclusion. Print editions of the pulled titles are still available from Amazon.

In an email published on Tuesday in the online Publishers Lunch newsletter, IPG president Mark Suchomel pointed the finger at Amazon, accusing the company of putting pressure on publishers and distributors in the hope of getting a better deal.

“Our electronic book agreement recently came up for renewal, and Amazon took the opportunity to propose new terms for electronic and print purchases that would have substantially changed your revenue from the sale of both,” Suchomel wrote in the email. “It’s obvious that publishers can’t continue to agree to terms that increasingly reduce already narrow margins.” Amazon hasn’t commented on the issue.

At this point in time it’s not clear if the two companies will get back around the table in an effort to resolve the issue.

According to Suchomel, the removal of IPG’s books from the Kindle store shouldn’t have a big impact on the firm’s business, adding that its titles are still available at other online stores such as iTunes and BarnesandNoble.com.

The spat between Amazon and IPG may stir memories of a dispute Amazon had with one of the largest publishers in the industry, Macmillan, back in early 2010. Amazon had wanted to sell the publisher’s e-books for no more than $9.99. Macmillan believed its publications were worth more and when the two companies couldn’t agree on pricing, the online retail giant pulled Macmillan’s titles from its Kindle store. After about a week, however, Amazon backed down and Macmillan’s e-books were returned to Amazon’s virtual shelves. We’ll have to wait and see whether IPG can also achieve a favorable outcome.

With e-publishing still in its infancy, clashes between companies in the industry are inevitable. Margins are tight for everyone in the business, with Amazon keen to attract consumers to its Kindle Fire tablet and other Kindle devices by offering goods in its online store at competitive prices. Publishers, meanwhile, have their own financial concerns and are reluctant to price their product too low.

As for Suchomel, of course he would rather have his books in the Kindle store than out. But he wants it to happen on terms he considers to be fair. Offering something of an olive branch, he said this week, “If they want to buy our books, they can buy them. We are happy to deal with them.”

[Image: Franck Boston / Shutterstock]

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