Take a look at this snippet from a recent article in Publishers Weekly:
Saying it is reviewing the antitrust and other legal implications of Amazon’s “bold move,” the Authors Guild sent an e-mail late Friday [April 4] to its membership questioning the motives—and implications—of the e-tailer’s new position on print-on-demand that makes publishers use its BookSurge division if they want the sell their titles on Amazon in the traditional manner. While Amazon is pitching the move as a consumer-friendly change that will improve the speed of shipping books and other products, the Guild says it suspects the motivation has more to do with profit margin than customer service.
So what if it does have more to do with profit margin?
I don't get why everyone seems to believe it's horribly unfair (and possibly illegal) for Amazon to quit stocking POD titles except for the ones published by its own BookSurge. Doesn't the store belong to Amazon? And doesn't a retail outfit have the right to decide what it will and will not sell?
If I were an Amazon stockholder, I'd be glad to know the company planned to stop making available POD books other than their own. I'd say that was probably a smart business move. Why should Amazon promote their competition?
Amazon is a for-profit corporation looking to increase its profits. I don't see anything shocking or disgusting about that. But the Writers Guild is leveling "antitrust" accusations:
If Amazon is successful in wresting a large chunk of pod business away from current leader Lightning Source (which the Guild says does a good job), they will have taken a huge step in controlling publishing’s supply change and thus control much of the industry’s long tail business, the Guild said. “Once Amazon owns the supply chain, it has effective control of much of the "long tail" of publishing,” the statement reads. “Since Amazon has a firm grip on the retailing of these books (it's uneconomic for physical book stores to stock many of these titles), owning the supply chain would allow it to easily increase its profit margins on these books: it need only insist on buying at a deeper discount -- or it can choose to charge more for its printing of the books -- to increase its profits. Most publishers could do little but grumble and comply.”
I'm no legal expert, but it seems to me that it's going to be difficult to build an antitrust case on the giant online retailer's refusal to stock certain products.
But maybe I'm missing something. If you'd like to weigh in on this, hit the Comments button.