As pointed out by Bloomberg Businessweek reporter Brad Stone on Google+ earlier today, Barnes & Noble will not stock physical copies of books released by Amazon’s publishing division. Designed to keep Amazon out of the brick and mortar locations across the United States, the company is taking this position in response to Amazon’s new strategy of selling physical and digital copies of specific releases exclusively through the site. While Stone calls this move a “declaration of war” against the online retailer, Barnes & Noble will sell Amazon titles online through its main site. However, Amazon would likely prefer to keep all online sales moving through Amazon.com.
As detailed by Barnes & Noble Chief Merchandising Officer Jaime Carey, he stated “Barnes & Noble has made a decision not to stock Amazon published titles in our store showrooms. Our decision is based on Amazon’s continued push for exclusivity with publishers, agents and the authors they represent. These exclusives have prohibited us from offering certain eBooks to our customers.”
Carey continued “Their actions have undermined the industry as a whole and have prevented millions of customers from having access to content. It’s clear to us that Amazon has proven they would not be a good publishing partner to Barnes & Noble as they continue to pull content off the market for their own self interest. We don’t get many requests for Amazon titles, but If customers wish to buy Amazon titles from us, we will make them available only online at bn.com.“
With over 700 physical locations across North America, Barnes & Noble has likely taken this position to force authors into rethinking if Amazon is going to be a worthwhile publisher. If an author cannot get their new book into Barnes & Noble stores, they may consider signing with a traditional publisher. In a previous move during October 2011, Barnes & Noble removed all physical copies of graphic novels created by DC Comics after Amazon secured exclusive rights to selling the digital versions.
According to a recent article in Bloomberg Businessweek, Amazon has been making progress on courting and signing high profile writers including The 4-Day Workweek’s Tim Ferris, actress and director Penny Marshall, actor James Franco, former basketball coach Bob Knight and librarian Nancy Pearl. By design, Amazon’s business model allows the retailer to offer higher royalties and advances to authors compared to the traditional publisher. They can also undercut publishers with lower book prices, both with physical and digital copies. With lower book prices on these exclusive titles, they may not need the Barnes & Noble retail storefront or even the 1,900 independent retailers across the Unites States.
While popular authors are being courted to the Amazon publishing platform, unknown authors are also taking advantage of the higher royalties. By completely bypassing endless publisher rejection letters and using Amazon to sell digital books on the Kindle platform, authors are collecting 70 percent royalty fees on each book sold. One of the more popular success stories is mystery and thriller author J.A. Konrath. According to an article at Media Bistro, he made approximately $100,000 over the holiday season with his 54 novels on Amazon and is averaging about $3,500 a day during January 2012.
With the flexibility of self-publishing, Amazon will be able to try out more creative types of promotion. During November 2011, Amazon announced the start of the Kindle Lending Library, a program that allows Amazon Prime subscribers to check out the book for an unlimited amount of time. However, the Prime member is limited to one book at a time. Many publishers opted out of this program, but Amazon should be able to attract even more Prime subscribers who also happen to be Kindle owners. Libraries around the country have also partnered with Amazon to allow Kindle owners to download copies of books through the Amazon site.