BookLocker.com has filed a class action lawsuit against Amazon.com in response to Amazon’s recent attempts to force all publishers using Print on Demand (POD) technology to pay Amazon to print their books. You can read the complaint here.

This article may be quoted and/or reprinted in its entirety.

BookLocker.com has filed a class action lawsuit against Amazon.com in response to Amazon’s recent attempts to force all publishers using Print on Demand (POD) technology to pay Amazon to print their books.

You can read the complaint here.

Amazon began their clandestine effort earlier this year by phone (nobody there seemed to want to put anything in writing), approaching POD publishers, and telling them they must pay Amazon to print their books or their active “buy” buttons would be turned off at the Amazon.com website. What this means is Amazon customers won’t be able to purchase those books directly from Amazon.com (and would not qualify for free shipping), but only through third-party resellers on the site.

Under the Amazon/BookSurge contract, Amazon:

* Controls the printing price of the POD books – The prices can change at anytime, at Amazon’s discretion, with 30 days notice.

* Controls the retail price of the POD books across the board – Publishers would not be able to sell their books for a lower price through “any other channel” (including other bookstores), and would not even be able to sell their books for less to their own customers under any circumstances.

* Controls the wholesale price of the POD books – Amazon’s new contract demands a 48%-52% discount (different contracts have been sent to different publishers). Many small, independent publishers can’t afford to offer this discount to bookstores and would be forced to raise their book prices, which will ultimately hurt book buyers.

* Controls the digital setup and scanning fees for each POD title – After the initial dump of current books, publishers would be charged approximately $50 per title (again, different publishers are receiving different contracts) in setup fees and/or varying scanning fees payable to Amazon/BookSurge. These fees can change at anytime, at Amazon’s discretion, with 30 days notice.

* Controls the formatting specifications – Many publishers can’t absorb the massive number of man-hours required to reformat every single book interior and cover file in their inventory to match Amazon’s specifications.

* Controls the quality of the books – Refer to THIS ARTICLE for details and links. It’s no secret that BookSurge has a poor reputation for quality, including complaints about pages falling out of books, upside-down pages, and more. If a publisher pays Amazon to print their books, their reputation could suffer due to any possible BookSurge quality problems with that publisher’s books.

* Attempts to control the public’s knowledge of who has signed the Amazon/BookSurge contract, along with the details of that contract, through a confidentiality clause, so that publishers signing it may feel they can’t talk about it at all.

* And, Amazon controls the golden nugget – that coveted “buy” button that book buyers want (so their order can qualify for free shipping).

In a public statement, Amazon offered only one alternative to publishers, which is their “Advantage Program.” However, they did not divulge in the public statement that the terms of the Advantage Program are even worse than their printing contract. The Advantage Program requires POD publishers to give Amazon 55% of the list price, pay them $29.95/year, and pay the shipping costs for books going to Amazon.

STRONG DISSENT FROM INDUSTRY REPRESENTATIVES
The Author’s Guild, the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), The Small Publishers Association of North America (SPAN), YouWriteOn.com (the U.K.’s leading writer’s website) and the National Writer’s Union have all issued strong statements denouncing Amazon’s attempted power grab of the industry.

OUR STORY
After hearing rumors of Amazon’s alleged activities, we spoke to an Amazon/Booksurge representative by phone on March 26th. You can read what transpired that day HERE.

After reviewing all the materials presented to us, and after talking on- and off-the-record with publishers, authors and industry representatives at all levels of this controversy, it is our opinion that Amazon may be positioning itself to directly print and control every book it sells. By forcing publishers to sign their extraordinarily oppressive contract, Amazon gains the power to charge publishers whatever printing and distribution costs it desires, as well as controlling the retail, discount and wholesale prices of the books it prints, and, through this contract, automatically positions itself to control the market.

We cannot say for certain if what Amazon is doing is legal or not at this point; that is for the Federal courts to decide. However, in our opinion, the seemingly covert manner in which Amazon has conducted itself in this matter seems to make their actions highly suspicious.

WHAT’S NEXT?
Amazon has already taken control of publishers’ ebook sales on the Amazon.com website by requiring ebooks to be available for their ebook reader, the Kindle. Now, Amazon is attempting to take control of the printing of all POD books. We wonder if traditionally published books are next. Some are speculating that Amazon won’t stop until they are being paid to print every book they sell.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
You can read more information about this situation HERE, including a time-line of the events that have transpired. You can comment on this situation HERE.

ARE YOU AFFECTED?
According to Amazon’s public statement, ALL POD books will be affected. If you are a POD publisher (this includes self-published authors who publish their own POD books through a printer), or a traditional publisher using POD technology for some or all your books, and would like more information, please contact:

Angela Hoy, Publisher
BookLocker.com
angela@booklocker.com

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55 Comments so far

  1. angela on May 20, 2008 9:33 am

    JUST A FEW OF THE EMAILS SUBMITTED TO ANGELA LAST NIGHT:

    Proud of you, Angela. I’m removing all references to Amazon from my own web site, and will order them to remove my book and short (Amazon Shorts) from their catalog. I’d rather not sell a book than have it be held hostage.

    M J Melneck (OLD MUSIC)

    ~~~~~

    Hi Angela,

    Another fine job. Kudos to you and your husband for being so brave and so caring about writers and POD publishers.

    Stephanie

    ~~~~~

    I’m not buying from Amazon anymore…

    Cathy

    ~~~~~

    You go, girl!!!!

    Good luck!

    Nina Amir
    CopyWright Communications

    ~~~~~

    You go, Angela! Kick some Amazonian (bleep)!

    Patch

    ~~~~~

    Angela, as I always say, you are an inspiration to all writers and Americans. You are, quite frankly, A FORCE!

    With hugs of appreciation,

    Marion Cuba
    author, Shanghai Legacy

    ~~~~~

    Hey Angela

    Thanks for standing up and absolutely being counted to the bullies at amazon and I wish you all the success in the galaxy for your legal fight.

    Big Hugs,

    Rainbow

    ~~~~~

    You go girl!

    - Carma

    PS: Let me know if there is anything I can do to help. This not only affects me, but some of my clients, as well.

    ~~~~~

    Fantastic!

    Go get ‘em, Angie!

    I have written letters, raised awareness, voiced my supreme dissatisfaction whenever and wherever.

    If Amazon follows through with this absurd and monopolistic plan, I-and most writers I know-will shop elsewhere.

    Keep fighting the good fight.

    Beth Rubin
    http://www.bethrubinauthor.com
    http://www.onthewritepage.com
    Delaware Curiosities (Globe Pequot Press)
    Frommer’s Washington, D.C. With Kids (Wiley & Co.)
    Split Ends, a novel (authorhouse.com)

    ~~~~~

    Way to go, Angela!

    If they get away with this gambit, I would like, if possible, to convert Degrees of Murder to electronic form and forget them entirely.

    The more we learn about big corporations, national and local government, the more convinced I become that the conscience-less and morally moribund are seeking to take charge of our world.

    Regards–and count me in on the class-action suit, if that information is of use to you.

    Kevin

  2. angela on May 20, 2008 10:30 am

    MORE EMAILS SUBMITTED TO ANGELA:

    So many self-published authors just absolutely want to get into Amazon, as if doing so will help them sell a million books. Mostly, they want the ego-blessing of Amazon, which may help them sell one or two books. What Amazon is doing is a ridiculous money grab, but it’s their store and they can set the rules. But as a POD (print on demand) author, I say to heck (to hell, even) with Amazon, Chapters and traditional retailers and publishers… I am not going to post my most recent blog entry here, but if you want to know in detail why I say what I am saying, go to http://www.paullima.com/blog and read my reply to this question: “If you are so knowledgeable about writing non fiction, why are not published by a real publisher?” The question was asked of me; I’ve answered it. Who needs Amazon? Not me. Not me.

    Regards,
    Paul Lima
    http://www.paullima.com

    ~~~~~

    Thank you very much for the lawsuit – I have books I would like to have published by you someday, and am very worried about the actions Amazon.com has taken to grab power and monopolize the publishing industry. In their zeal to make still more money and provide what they consider the best speed and service to their customers, they apparently haven’t listened to their book buying customers. We do like things delivered quickly, but they could easily have the books they don’t have on hand drop-shipped from the independent POD publisher. In fact, that’s what I thought they were doing.

    This is the United States of America and we believe in freedom and people’s rights and equal opportunity for all. Riding roughshod over people is not worth getting a book a little faster, and faster often equals lower quality. If Amazon wants speed above all else, it is a given that quality will go out the window. It sounds like Amazon was taken over by some very young and inexperienced people who worship speed and have not learned how things really work or developed a good value system. If that is not so and the leadership is experienced and knowledgeable, they have no excuse that I can fathom. I am sad to see Amazon so corrupted by greed that they deserve to go down the tubes as people desert them and turn to others for books that don’t fall apart. As my instructor says, businesses fail because of need, greed and stupidity.

    I appreciate your sounding the alarm loud and clear, and doing something about it.

    Ginny McCown

    ~~~~~

    I think Amazon believed that everybody was going to roll over and play dead.

    I AM SOOOOO PROUD OF YOU!

    Hugs,
    Scott

  3. BJ Menter on May 20, 2008 10:42 am

    Like all empires, Amazon can be felled. If every writer refuses to buy through Amazon and their partners – this includes books, clothing, electronics, and other media – and enlists the support of their family and friends, a impressive grassroots campaign CAN happen.
    You know, it’s the mice steadily nibbling away at the rope that can break this thing as well as through the courts.
    As for me and mine, we took a family vote and we will NOT be purchasing anything more through Amazon or it’s affiliates.
    Power to the people – especially the little people.

  4. Heather Vallance on May 20, 2008 11:24 am

    Thank you for fighting this fight. Writers will become the silent victims if Amazon Booksurge are allowed to control the publishing industry.

  5. Charles Kaplan on May 20, 2008 11:26 am

    I’ve been practicing law for over 50 years, and, at one time, was the antitrust lawyer in the law department of a midium-sized NYSE-listed corporation. I had been wondering how long it would take you to file the law suit, because, in my opinion, Amazon was obviously promoting an illegal tie-in. I read the complaint, and it looks valid to me. I expect it to survive the motion to dismiss that Amazon will file to slow down the progress of the litigation.

    C. Kaplan

  6. Jerry on May 20, 2008 12:00 pm

    Well done! This may be the only way to bring Amazon.com to their senses. Thanks for taking this bold move.

  7. Toni D. Holm on May 20, 2008 12:39 pm

    Dear Angela,

    I applaud your stand to file suit against Amazon.com. There have been many professionals and organizations of writers, authors, and independent publishers who have spoken out against Amazon’s new policy.

    At first glance, Amazon’s recent new policy looks like business as usual in corporate America—greed–with a side bar of: “how to create a mega/media/monopoly.” I believe greed and bullying are the soft words describing what is currently becoming a ‘monopoly of attitudes’ in our corporate business communities. We slept through the loss of our most precious of “human rights” during the last two political terms, allowing our U.S. policies to de-value and de-evolve the human and our standing in the world to subhuman.

    “What’s wrong with us?” I have to ask myself, when, as a young adult in the ‘60’s, I witnessed countless voices not afraid to stand up and say “No!” to anyone or
    anything that devalued human beings from being given a “fair deal.”

    Well, Amazon, you’re not playing fair.
    Can we afford to sleep through this newest ploy, and put another chink in what little hope we have in this country to save the “backs of small businesses?”

    Simply put, “No!” We can no longer put our heads in the sand and say, “It’s just business as usual.”

    Our time to draw the line in the sand and say ‘enough’ has already run out! If we don’t stop this incestual push to “drop kick” small businesses just as they’re rebounding, I believe America will continue to slide down the slippery slope of third world status.

    There’s a term for how the younger generations see adults participating in this country’s current dilemmas. They call us sheeples. Sheeple is a term of disparagement a portmanteau created by combining the words “sheep” and “people.”

    It is often used to denote persons who acquiesce to authority, and thus undermine their own human individuality. The implication of sheeple is that as a collective, people believe whatever they are told, especially if told so by authority figures, without processing it to be sure that it is an accurate representation of the real world around them.

    Have I been affected by Amazon’s policy? Of course, it’s already changed how I think about Amazon.com. The honeymoon’s over.

    I was actually on the Amazon.com Advantage website, completing the paperwork for their program, when I went searching through their
    pages for some tidbit and found and read their new policy. I have not completed my application for Amazon.com’s Advantage program for authors and publishers.

    Anybody out there want to set up a new Web site for selling books published by independent book publishers? There’s power in
    grass roots disobedience.

    Back in the 1980’s women and mothers were concerned about the pesticides being sprayed on apples. Those same apples (with pesticides) were being harvested to manufacture the applesauce mothers fed their babies. After a quiet, national boycotting of apples, applesauce, and baby foods with apples, mothers won! Through the simple efforts of grass roots activities, the growers finally heard their concerns and stopped the practice of spraying their apple orchards.

    When there is a quoram, something shifts.

    Angela, thank you for taking action. Every voice is needed now to stand up and say “No” to this type of corporate greed and manipulation.

    Regards,
    Toni D. Holm, Publisher

    Sheeple. Reference.com. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (http://www.reference.com/browse/wiki/Sheeple
    accessed: April 03,2008).

  8. Sharon Elaine on May 20, 2008 4:32 pm

    Wow, good for you Angela! (and good for us!) I’ve always loved Amazon, and have been heart-sick over the way they’ve been acting lately. I just don’t understand when greed takes over and all common sense goes out the window. If Amazon continues down this crooked path, it will completely change the way everyone views them. I’m so disappointed in them and they really should be ashamed of themselves. What goes around comes around and if they keep spewing bad energy, they’ll get it back, doubled.

    Thanks again for all that you do!

    Sharon Elaine
    author of “The Book of Affirmations”
    and “Ready, Click, Win” (How to win online sweepstakes)
    http://www.unleashedminds.com

  9. Melanie Jordan on May 20, 2008 9:38 pm

    One of the big reasons I became both self-employed and self-published was that I wanted to have full control over every aspect of the works I created, and not to be controlled by Cororate America.

    I have always had a strong entrepreneurial spirit and respect those who demonstrate it as well. Has Amazon forgotten what it was like to be a start-up that challenged the traditional booksellers? So now that it is a force in its own right it has decided to be as monopolistic in its business practices as the narrow-minded companies it originally challenged? I guess they feel they got theirs, so the heck with everyone else who doesn’t jump when they say to jump.

    Amazon makes its money (finally) primarily off the creativity of others. If it weren’t for us authors and the people who want to read our work, they would have nothing to sell for their core business. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you!

    Angela & Richard, congratulations on the lawsuit. As long as I am a Booklocker.com author, I’ve got the backing of a class act, so who cares about Amazon? I am still glad though that you are not letting them get away with it–keep up the fight and thanks!

  10. Sgt. Mom on May 21, 2008 9:51 am

    On the surface of it, this is just such a ham-fisted move by Amazon. Here they go, alienating writers – who produce content, readers – who buy books, and writer/bloggers – who are articulate and outspoken. And for what end?

    I do have to wonder what they see as a payoff; what is their big-picture, downstream goal? Might it be (as has been suggested) a lock on printing every book they sell, no matter who the publisher is?

    It has to be big, in order to risk alienating so many small presses and niche writers.

    Celia Hayes
    Author “To Truckee’s Trail”
    http://www.celiahayes.com

  11. richard meredith on May 21, 2008 10:25 am

    Dear Angela, Richard, Booklocker et al
    Thank you for being our champion. Until now – like many other small publishers I suspect – I have thought of Amazon as an ally and partner. Not any more. Someone there has clearly lost the plot. Sound court judgement will surely rule out this draconian contract but even then, the breach of faith and reputational damage they have already brought upon themselves will never be forgotten.

  12. prying1 on May 21, 2008 11:18 am

    It certainly looks like Amazon’s actions would only lead to its competition being knocked out of business. Without competition most likely prices would be run up as opposed to down. Not to mention quality, service, and customer relations could falter and both authors and consumers would have no alternatives but to put up with it.

    Hang in there. I pray for a just judge and fair jury for your lawsuit.

  13. pogomcl on May 21, 2008 2:36 pm

    seems that it can be nothing but illegal as Amazon is legally a vendor and not a publisher by its own definition, but why not file this letter with the Washington State Atty? Seems that Washington State doesn’t mind swatting the bullies that live in the state, including MS Vista Capable crap. good luck. She takes her job quite seriously.

    stupid question– I see, here’s the answer– well Washington State Atty takes it seriously if recommending it to a Fed Court for Anti-Trust, so it probably is illegal as hell.

    at least you have very sound recommendation from folks who know their stuff… go for it, but circulate and knock their socks off.

    from other page:

    “Wednesday, April 23, 2008 – The Washington State Attorney General has issued a statement claiming they are not planning further action against Amazon. They claim “it may be more appropriate to refer this matter to one of the federal antitrust agencies for review” and “anyone feeling that they have been harmed and wish to pursue a remedy should consider consulting with private counsel.”"

  14. Lorraine on May 21, 2008 3:09 pm

    Thank you. Bless you.

  15. Catherine Rankovic on May 21, 2008 3:27 pm

    I think BookSurge is on the run. On May 20, day after the suit was filed, BookSurge sent a mass Email offering self-publishing services to individual authors, including a special deal for signing on with them by the end of May. I responded. This morning, May 21, a BookSurge sales rep actually phoned me to tell me more and Emailed me a contract and other info for me to look at. Can you say “hard sell”?

  16. Lorelei Nettles on May 21, 2008 4:06 pm

    Thanks so much Angela! I knew I had the right people print my book and I too was wondering how long it would be before you would do something. I haven’t dealt with you long, but I knew by what I had read you would not stand still for all of this.

    I have emailed my feelings to the powers that be, have removed any mention of Amazon from anything in regards to my book, and have also quit doing business with them. Thanks for keeping us all in the loop of what they are trying to do.

    Lorelei Nettles
    Homeschooling and the Only Child

  17. Victor Kulkosky on May 21, 2008 6:22 pm

    Angela:

    Congratulations on your chutzpah! You are doing a great service to writers and publishers. I suppose you gave some thought to the burdens this case is going to bring on you and your family. You are definitely David to Amazon’s Goliath.
    I have a nearly finished manuscript. You were already on my short list. Now there’s no doubt where I’ll send it — BookLocker! I’ll be blogging about this issue in the near future. In the meantime, my prayers are with you and I hope others join you.
    Victor Kulkosky

  18. BobW on May 21, 2008 9:05 pm

    Hi Angela,
    If more people would stand up against these monopolies (Amazon, Google, Paypal, et al) perhaps these compaines would realise that their grass roots were born from the common folk who wanted to make an honest living.
    I think that once they get big they get greedy. Once they hire accountants and lawyers things get ugly. I’m not criticising the mainstream account and lawyer, but too often what starts out as a great idea where everyone can benefit, becomes a playground for ambitious types that see only $$$$ and not people.

    The Internet has become a quagmire for those who want to get out of the JOB rut and work for themselves as the good Lord intended. It is sad that the original concept that the founders of these monolithic companies has been lost to online domination. Amazon’s stance is close to the contemporary publishing houses who dominated the scene before the Internet.

    I find Amazon’s POD policy appalling, and as a self-publisher I am glad I haven’t any ties with them.

    Good luck with your suit.
    BobW

  19. Lois Glass Webb on May 22, 2008 11:42 am

    Angela: Thank you for taking this action. Amazon.com seems to be reaching too far in many directions, including POD and e-books.

    Lois Glass Webb, Author
    THE JUDGE’S DAUGHTER
    THE SPECTRE OF DEATH RODE THE LAND

  20. Anne Wayman on May 22, 2008 1:26 pm

    way to go! What support do you need?

    Anne Wayman
    http://www.annewayman.com

  21. Dusty Miller on May 22, 2008 2:54 pm

    Go Angela. Thanks for the extraordinary time in doing this to protect us. I’ve removed all links to Amazon from my website. I’ve e-bombed friends in Germany, Spain, England, and Canada. I emailed the link to this action and commentary to friends in Washington DC, and to the Federal Trade Commission. After I sent more notices to pals in Nevada, California, Florida, Hawaii, and Virginia…they’re dumping Amazon off their sales sites for things other than books. Hell Hath No Fury!

  22. BookLocker Begins Class Action Against Amazon on May 22, 2008 2:56 pm

    [...] COMMENTS can be posted to the bottom of THIS PAGE. [...]

  23. Elizabeth Burton on May 22, 2008 3:14 pm

    Before I begin, allow me to state that (1) I am not in the employ of either Booksurge or Amazon and (2) I’ve already had my ethics and my antecedents and my parentage questioned because I refuse to make business decisions based on incomplete or outright incorrect information. So, don’t send me irate emails. It’s been done, and I’ve heard it all.

    As someone who has used Booksurge’s printing services for nearly a decade, and who also prints with Lightning Source, I’d appreciate it if we could concede that I might know a bit more about the former than someone who hasn’t ever done business with them–or did so years ago.

    If you’re going to file a lawsuit, it would help if the facts you base it on are actually facts. In the list presented, I saw very little of that.

    1. ANY printer can change their per-copy charge at any time.

    2. Fictionwise has the exact same “you can’t sell lower than we do” requirement for ebook publishers. You might want to add them into your suit. And the comment that publisher would never be able to sell at a lower price than Amazon is only true IF you mean on a regular basis. A publisher is perfectly free to hold sales and sell their books for as low a price as they choose. They just can’t do it constantly. Which is standard business practice.

    3. Wholesale price is NOT discounted price. Wholesale price is what the books cost the publisher. Amazon is demanding deeper discounts than the standard 40%–which a good many of the publishers you cite weren’t giving them. So, they got to take advantage of Amazon’s free shipping even if it actually COST Amazon to sell the books. In other words, even if Amazon lost money on every copy sold.

    Given that the net return on copies of books printed under the auspices of Booksurge (more on that later) and sold through Amazon is nearly double the return on books shipped to Amazon by other printer-fulfillment services, the discounts they require won’t hurt anybody–because the printing cost of the books is INCLUDED in THEIR share.

    4. As with the price per copy, ANY printing company has the right to raise their fees and charges. As for the set-up fee, the cost depends on which route one takes. The $50 cited is the fee for CreateSpace, which is a self-publishing service used not only for books but for audio and video as well. Actual publishers utilize Booksurge publisher services, where costs are lower. As I don’t know whether a book packaging service qualifies as a publisher, I can’t speak to how this applies to Booklocker. Suffice to say one size doesn’t fit all, and what may be offered a business of one kind isn’t necessarily the one that will be offered someone else.

    5. There are no “massive number of manhours” required. The same book block prepared for Lightning Source will work at Booksurge, and converting the cover flat takes minutes using an easily set up Photoshop template.

    6. Unless you’re having every shipment ordered via LSI to you first for inspection, I point out that EVERY printer handles quality control in-house. And there will always be “hiccups.” What matters is how the printer handles them, and Booksurge has always dealt quickly with any problems we’ve encountered. So has LSI. They’re both professional companies not given to biting the hand that feeds them, even if all the hand is holding is a bread crumb.

    And to publicly state that their quality is lower than that of any other printer is specious. They use precisely the same printing equipment as LSI and the quality of the books is precisely the same as well. We’ve shipped Booksurge-printed books to vendors for the last nine years and have NEVER had a single one complain of poor quality. Furthermore, I’ve had conversation with those who use both Booksurge and LSI, as we do, and they’ve stated they feel Booksurge actually has the better quality.

    7. Confidentiality of business matters is required by the very anti-trust laws you’re utilizing. For publishers to discuss their business arrangements with Amazon or anyone else can be used as evidence of price-fixing. Nor are contractual arrangements between businesses required to be made public.

    8. It’s their store. Their game, their rules. Nobody’s forced to play. No one is prevented from having books printed elsewhere and selling them through either of the other channels available at Amazon, just as no one is preventing publishers from giving short discounts. They just can’t have their cake and eat it, too.

    I said I’d address the reason I used the phrase “Booksurge auspices.” If anyone’s still here, I’ll explain.

    As was made known shortly after the uproar went public, Amazon’s stated reason for wanting their new policy is so there is no more delay than necessary between an order being placed and being shipped. Rather than carry copies of on-demand titles in their warehouse, they decided it made more sense to simply be able to print them when they’re ordered. They’ve installed digital printing equipment in all of their warehouses–title listed with Booksurge have been shipped this way for the last six months or so.

    To do this, however, they must have some kind of legal arrangement with the publisher.

    Shortly after Amazon announced their new policy, LSI announced they had established a file-sharing arrangement with On Demand, the makers of the Espresso machine. The goal of On Demand is to arrange it so that bookstores and other venues would have their machine on hand and would thus print out books while the customer has a latte.

    Without a similar file-sharing arrangement, Amazon can’t print books listed with LSI. We have no way of knowing if they sought such an arrangement and were turned down or if they just didn’t bother. (See previous note about confidentiality) The point is that, without that or something similar, Amazon can’t legally print LSI books in their warehouses.

    So, their only option is to establish a separate relationship with the publishers, which means via Booksurge. When asking publishers to do it voluntarily didn’t work, they made the choice to force the issue. It’s their choice as a business, just as it’s the choice of any other business not to agree. The decision was made for one reason only: to ensure the revenue stream flows TO Amazon instead of away from it.

    You know: capitalism.

  24. Author on May 23, 2008 3:41 pm

    Ms. Burton says too much to answer in detail, particularly as I wait hungrily for lunch. So I’ll confine myself to two points, one small and one large.

    1. An odd factual error suggests there may be other errors in her rambling remarks and that she knows less about publishing than she claims. She says: “Wholesale price is NOT discounted price. Wholesale price is what the books cost the publisher.”

    No, wholesale price is the price retailers (i.e. bookstores) pay for the book. It’s typically 55% of the retail price, leaving the bookstore with 45% to cover their expenses, provide their profit, and allow for any discount they may offer. A publisher couldn’t stay in business if its wholesale price equaled its cost for the book. It’d have no money to cover overhead or pay expenses.

    2. Many of Ms. Burton’s arguments in defense of Amazon/BookSurge ignore a critical factor. The law doesn’t insist that businesses play nice or treat everyone the same. But it does treat a company that dominates a market enough to be considered a monopoly differently from anyone else. There competition has been effectively eliminated and, in the interest of the public, the law must step in to restore a free market. That’s why this dispute includes a claim that Amazon’s behavior will result in higher consumer prices.

    As I recently told a reporter. If Barnesandnoble.com or Buy.com were to make the same demands as Amazon, I’d laugh. Neither sells enough of my books to matter. Any sales I’d loose if they dropped my books or made them harder to buy would just become additional sales on Amazon.

    The same is not true of Amazon. Amazon overwhelming dominates online book sales. Quite a few people won’t buy a book if they can’t get it easily on Amazon. How they treat my books matters. Demands that Amazon makes are in a different league from demands that B&N makes. Based on bitter experience with rail and oil monopolies in the late 19th century, the law recognizes that fact and limits must how nastily a monopoly can behave.

    To give one example, monopolies can’t “bundle,” meaning they can’t make one business transaction dependent on another. That’s one of the ways Microsoft got into trouble. It set bundling conditions to computer manufacturers who wanted to install Windows on computers they sold. To distribute Windows they had to include certain other software (i.e. Internet Explorer) and not include other software (i.e. Netscape). Microsoft was attempting to use its dominance of one market, Windows, to dominate another market, web browsers, in the so-called “Browser Wars.” That’s precisely what Amazon is doing.

    If a federal court in Maine determines that Amazon is effectively a monopoly, then Amazon will not be able to make online sales dependent on BookSurge printing. Amazon remains free to sell or not sell certain titles based on legitimate business concerns (i.e. profitability or availability), but BookSurge printing can’t be a factor. In our case, it would mean that if Amazon gets some books they’ve just sold from Ingram, and they have to do that, then they can’t treat pod titles from Ingram any differently.

    One additional note. I’m not quite sure Amazon executives realize the trouble they’ve gotten themselves into with this dispute in far-off Maine. As I understand the law, to rule in favor of BookLocker the court will have to determine that in at least one market (books) Amazon is effectively a monopoly. That decision will then have serious implications for what Amazon can do in areas that have nothing to do with print on demand. Others they try to bully can go to court without having to demonstrate that Amazon is a monopoly. Amazon will have to play a lot nicer than if would have had to do if it’d left POD publishers alone.

  25. Graham on May 23, 2008 6:43 pm

    To Ms. Burton:

    Of the many fallacies and outright misinformation contained in your post, I wish to comment on two in particular:

    “2. Fictionwise has the exact same “you can’t sell lower than we do” requirement for ebook publishers. You might want to add them into your suit.”

    Does Fictionwise have the same monopoly that Amazon has in restricting retail? No? Then how is that relevant?

    “5. There are no “massive number of manhours” required. The same book block prepared for Lightning Source will work at Booksurge, and converting the cover flat takes minutes using an easily set up Photoshop template.”

    This is a gross distortion. Firstly, Booksurge does not offer the same choice of bookblock sizes that LSI do, therefore many different sizes of books do in fact need to be reworked (unless you’re advocating some arbitrary conversion which will distort or look odd in new dimensions).

    Secondly, even if the cover takes only “a few minutes” (it is far more involved than that, and you simply cannot trust such a delicate process to a macro), you would be hard-pressed to convert 50 in a day. Multiply that by the many thousands of titles a POD publisher may have, and you run into substantial costs.

    However, even that is not the main issue. For me, the problem is pricing. Under Booksurge, I would need to charge an extra $4 retail TO THE CUSTOMER to avoid making a loss on every book sold. And even this would result in 5 times less profit than I currently make per book!

    So the customer ends up paying $4 extra and I make 80% less profit.

    If the “Free Shipping” is such an issue for Amazon, why on Earth can’t it simply make POD books not qualify for Free Shipping? I would be absolutely fine with that. Can anyone answer this?

  26. Mari Bushman on May 23, 2008 7:04 pm

    Angela,

    Just a note to let you and Richard know that we here at Jigsaw Press are four-square behind you. We removed all references (other than a BOYCOTT AMAZON notice) to Amazon from our site after you first broke the story.

    On behalf of our family, friends, authors and fans we, the editor and staff of Jigsaw Press, thank you so much for standing up to the Amazon.

    If there’s anything we can do to assist you in any way, please do not hesitate to let us know.

    Mari
    editor-Jigsaw Press
    http://www.jigsawpress.com

  27. Bascom & Tracy on May 25, 2008 3:14 pm

    Wow!…I guess we were a little naive about this topic. Thanks for educating us!

    We will definitely steer any of our potential customers away from Amazon.

  28. Diana Barnum on May 28, 2008 7:21 am

    Go get ‘em, Angela! We’re behind you here. Even inviting fellow writers to do the same here: http://www.warriorforum.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=248208

    And joining in class action suit against another online giant with too much power, eBay / Paypal, here:

    http://techrepublic.com.com/5208-6230-0.html?forumID=102&threadID=219720&start=0

    …folks, don’t let the giants run us into the ground. Stick up for your businesses. There’s plenty of room online for all of us.

  29. James on May 28, 2008 9:08 pm

    Perhaps it is time to give other Internet Sellers a new fresh look. I am setting up some accounts with the Amazon Jungle Boy’s Competitors tonight.

    Control Nazi Freaks! Had a good thing and now ethically going to the dark side.

    We saw this sociopathic stuff in computers. It ain’t happening here.

  30. Daron Powers on May 29, 2008 9:34 am

    Angela,
    This is an alarming development. I am a few weeks away from publishing with Infinity Publishing. I am concerned because I was charged an extra fee to be listed on Amazon and more importantly I went through Infinity because of the quality of their work. It appears as if Amazon is interested dominating in publishing while printing substandard print. I am saddened and outraged. I applaud your action. Let me know how I can help.

  31. Scott Baker on May 29, 2008 10:55 am

    As a new POD author, I haven’t seen a problem – yet. I republished my two volume novel, Neitherworld, with CreateSpace simply because they offered me the option to sell it on Amazon for far less than Lulu.com, though Lulu lets me sell it elsewhere, and in hardcover. After some initial hicups, CreateSpace offered quality nearly as good as Lulu (the covers have a slightly washed out look compared to Lulu, but the interior pages are actually better in pure white as opposed to Lulu’s off-white). Both books can be purchased together for $24.50 – not bad for a 410,000 word two volume paperback novel with 11 illustrations each. The Lulu versions continues to be sold on Amazon, though I always point potential readers to the Createspace versions since they are about 40% cheaper.
    I do understand why competitor POD publishers are worried about competing against Amazon – which is to the online bookselling world what Microsoft is to PC software. But, as with Microsoft, Google came along and found a new way of doing business online. Something similar needs to happen in the publishing world too.
    Let’s face it; there are FAR too many books out there for the readers that exist, a fact I found out to my own chagrin, dispite good reviews and a reasonable price (though not as cheap as a traditional publisher would get for me). The issue is not whether we can sell our POD books on Amazon, it is whether we can sell them at all.

  32. Christina Brett on May 29, 2008 11:17 am

    I had a book published in England with Literally Publishing, in Oxfordshire, and I learned later on that they print with BookSurge. My first 25 copies were awful! The book on top of the pile was fine, but all the others were blurred, as if they placed them together with a still wet setting. I complained and I got a second order and the same thing happened. In the meantime, I had to change the date of a book signing date that I had because I had no books to take with me. I was sad and extremely dissappointed at this and will never use BookSurge again!
    Christina Brett, author of “Old Sins Cast Long Shadows”, soon to be a movie!

  33. Ginger Blymyer on May 29, 2008 12:43 pm

    How can Amazon do this to the public, both readers and writers. The big corporate publishers hardly publish any great books now and each time I go to the book store and see what is coming, I am ready to cry. So why isn’t it enough to continue as they have. I have spent thousands of dollars at Amazon. I want great quality books, at a fair price and as an author I want the freedom to publish with a good publisher that will have a product to be proud ot. It was so great to be able to know my book which I have spent many years creating, would be up for sale. Everyone made some money, the authors less than anyone, and it was perfect. Why so greedy. When is enough enough? I thought that Amazon had an outlook that would help us all. But sadly it seems that they have forgotten their middle class customers and have joined the money first crowd. How will we find the little authors who have so much to offer but are not best sellers. Hard to believe this is happening.
    Ginger Blymyer, author Hairdresser to the Stars-A Hollywood Memoir and Flying into the Sun, a novel, and avid reader.

  34. Candace Sams (aka C.S. Chatterly) on May 29, 2008 2:24 pm

    Book Surge quality is so poor that no author could expect to make a living selling titles printed by this venue. Amazon has no right inflicting it on authors!!!

  35. Sharon on May 29, 2008 6:14 pm

    I stopped buying from Amazon.

  36. Bonnie Fournier on May 30, 2008 1:11 pm

    Hi Angela;
    I just received this info from Helen, who edits and sends FeedBlitz news. I am a first time nonfiction Author and very close to publishing with Trafford.

    Thank you so much for your efforts and action on our behalf. I am certainly in favor of protecting the rights of all.

    Bonnie Fournier

  37. RuthAnn Hogue on June 16, 2008 8:23 pm

    The magic of POD is that it has made publishing accessible to the common person, no longer making it a monopoly for the rich or elite. To have one extremely large corporation seize control of that would be akin to having someone take control over all ISPs so Web publishers would have to go through a central clearinghouse to publish anything online. That’s just crazy. So is making all POD publishers to use one provider. What’s next? Will Amazon want to take over all music publishing labels, too?

  38. Robert V Aldrich on June 26, 2008 4:12 pm

    Please know that many of the authors published through Booklocker are with Angela Hoy and the staff at Booklocker completely on this. We support them and their efforts as they face down Amazon.

  39. Nathan Lichtwar on June 30, 2008 11:02 am

    Hello Angela

    I have felt that Amazon would be the way to help stimulate sales?

    New to this venue I’m in Limbo at this point and have decided to go on with my sequel and let the BOOK G~D handle the future as I am powerless over that for sure!

    Good Luck to you both, and please keep me informed.

    Captain Nathan Lichtwar
    http://www.peckerwoodtwist.com

  40. Bernice Camp on July 5, 2008 11:24 am

    Angela,
    Thank you for fighting for publishers and authors. Amazon “Goliath” is powerful but because of people and publishers like yourself, you will stop this takeover. We the people, each one a “David” can fight against monopolies in our own way. They took the buy button from us, so we should not buy, anything from them. We can stand against Amazon.
    Thank you
    Bernice Camp
    Author-Broken Vessels-Tribute to a Family

  41. manny on July 8, 2008 7:10 pm

    Hi Angela. Can I sign into the class action lawsuit? How do I do it! I resent corporations dominating the little guy! I am all about justice and due process , I have contempt for Oligarchies. Peace. Manny

  42. BookLocker Has Sued Amazon in a Class Action Antitrust Lawsuit | Shireen Jeejeebhoy, Author on August 2, 2008 5:02 pm

    [...] out BookLocker filed a class action antitrust lawsuit against Amazon and BookSurge in May (the latter is the print-on-demand company [...]

  43. The Other Jim Daniels on August 13, 2008 9:39 am

    Go get ‘em Angela.

    In reading about Amazon’s actions I see similarities with recent actions by E-Bay.

    Both companies have lost sight of who exactly enables them to stay in business. Their first concern is boosting the bottom line so the corporate elite can cash in on their options. Their second concern is pleasing the analyst’s on Wall Street who can help make or break a companies stock.

    Both companies need buyers, customers, but they’ve lost sight of the fact that if they have no sellers, also their customers, they will not have any buyers. And, sadly, both companies seem to feel that sellers, on E-Bay, and Publishers, on Amazon, are a nuisance to be tolerated and bled until there’s nothing left.

    While Amazon and E-Bay are still the Wal-Mart’s of the on line selling world I see a time coming when they will go the way of the dodo as smaller companies and new companies come along that care about all of their customers whether they be buyers or sellers.

  44. Sheila G. McCurdy on October 4, 2008 6:24 pm

    I started using BookSurge as my POD printer prior to knowing that they and Amazon had this “thing” going between them. I am the author/publisher of my book. It is the 2nd edition. The lst edition was printed using a traditional printer and is currently available through Amazon. BookSurge has to be the worst nightmare I could have engaged in. They are slower than slower, non-communicative, printed the wrong book cover, would only mail books to my home address and nowhere else, and would not mail the books FedEx, even at my expense when I need them for a speaking circuit. I am still waiting for the second half of my 200 book order that I ordered in July! I received 100 with the wrong book covers because I was desperate for the books and agreed to take them (of course, paying the full amount!). There is nothing I can say good about this company and I cannot believe that Amazon and its founder would go for this. They do not have the capacity to handle multiple book orders. Believe me, everyone will know about this on all my speaking circuits, my conference calls, radio interviews, etc. They have cost me book sales and I am definitely not a happy camper!
    Sheila McCurdy

  45. Debbie J. Smith on December 29, 2008 5:43 am

    My first book was stolen by the publisher by not paying me for the royalties. As a POD Book the rights have reverted back to me but once again I feel another loss having had my book distributed by Ingram who of course was connected to Authorhouse in 2005, when my book was published.Amazon is just another company trying to become an oligopoly. You can use me as a good example. Amazon has me listed on their site but I am back in control of my book. As you stated in this article only those who have a copy of my book can sell it for the price they want for it. “Simplicity” is under ISBNS as follows:
    9781420838510 & 1420838512.I’m using it to my advantange now. My heart goes out to you for fighting for all of us effected by this take over. I’ll be republishing “Simplicity” with the same picture since I own the copyright to the picture also. If I can be of any help don’t hesitate to email me. Thank you again!!!

    Debbie J. Smith
    The unknown Poet….”Two round trip tickets that you can’t buy, was given to me in the twinkling of an eye. When I returned home. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

  46. J Beskin on January 12, 2009 2:51 am

    I am now concerned that it looks like first it was authors and publishers,then pirated software, now it is artists/music labels and movie makers need to look into this. It looks like Amazon is trying to free itself of any liability by allowing its sellers to sell pirated DVDs and CDs. I was originally a naive customer, but have received suspect CDs. If they issue refund I am still taking pictures of my last pirated CD. Hope more people get involved to make a news story about Amazon so that Amazon gets butt kicked for this.

  47. Hermenautic Circle blog » Aiming At Amazon on January 26, 2009 9:21 pm

    [...] know about that, you could start here, then graduate to reading the actual legal complaint here. It’s an ongoing class action suit.) Shepard doesn’t deny that Amazon is ruthless but [...]

  48. Author Marketing Experts, Inc. » The Amazon Battle, Continued: An Interview With BookLocker’s Angela Hoy on March 4, 2009 11:23 pm

    [...] people are saying! Please post your comments regarding this situation to the bottom of this page: http://antitrust.booklocker.com/booklocker-files-class-action-lawsuit-against-amazon#respond. addthis_url = ‘http%3A%2F%2Famarketingexpert.com%2Fameblog%2F%3Fp%3D288′; addthis_title = [...]

  49. Ms. Kent on March 5, 2009 11:33 pm

    Hi Angela,
    Personally, I don’t see that you have a choice. Requiring publishers to go with Booksurge will you and others like you out of business.

    I’m ready to write my first POD book and am afraid they’ll own too much of my book. I feel self publishing is the only way for me since I’m not a big name in my field (etiquette instructor). When I read the Booksurge contract online I was horrfied!
    It reads as if Amazon owns you: your title, your profits, even when you cancel the contract ( see #14 “miscellaneous” of the contract ).
    First thing I wondered was…. how will I (the self publisher) know for sure how many books are printed and sold. Seems to me, if Amazon is this disingenuous in a contact why would they be honest with your royalties. They are obviously VERY interested in their own profits… not the publisher’s.
    I’m most concerned about # 14 in the contract where is reads: “sections 4,5,6.1,6.2,6.3,7,8,9,10,13,14 will survive termination of this agreement”.
    What do you think?
    Ms. Kent

  50. Why the Lack of a Jeff Bezos Dooms Mainstream Publishing | Dear Author: Romance Novel Reviews, Industry News, and Commentary on April 7, 2009 6:01 am

    [...] April 4, 2005: BookSurge LLC. Amazon buys a print on demand fulfillment company. Later, Amazon would prevent other POD books to be sold through Amazon’s online retail store. Booklocker has sued. [...]

  51. Summer Sizzlers: Media Types Encounter Royalty Disputes, Dropped Deals, and More on May 4, 2009 5:38 pm

    [...] May, Bangor, ME–based POD publisher BookLocker.com filed a class action lawsuit against Amazon, calling the company’s moves “highly suspicious.” The Small Publishers Association of North America (SPAN) voted to support BookLocker in the lawsuit [...]

  52. Karen J Morris on July 10, 2009 6:50 am

    Yes, I have had big problems with Booksurge. I am a travel writer and I was working on a 4 book series called “Snow Sport Lovers Travel Guide” 2 of the books went to print, the 3rd book “The Rockie Mountain States” was kicked back by booksurge saying that is was not print ready, I never received my authors copy and was too busy working on another book o go back and fix what was wrong with the Rockies book, strange, the rocky mount. Book appeared on Amazon for sale at 108.00 not the 26.99 the book should have sold for if it was in print; they sold by book to a 3rd party. Plus I have not gotten a royalty ck for over one year.
    Can you help me?
    239-209-6009
    Karen J Morris

  53. Phyl on August 22, 2009 11:27 am

    I’m so thankful to have ran across this information before signing on with Amazon Advantage… My instincts were telling me that it would not be a good idea and after reading some of their terms, I thought I’d better seek info on complaints and voila!!Thanks!!!!

    Phyl

  54. Joseph J. Neuschatz M.D. on October 4, 2009 11:55 am

    Angela, our angel of justice,

    My novel “terrO.R.” – a medical liability thriller – (fiction ?) is available on Kindle for almost 2 years. During this time the book was listed on different categories but never on the “medical thrillers” one, were it belongs. Most other such books (from both traditional and POD publishers) are listed correctly.

    Could this be due to the fact that my paperback edition comes from Booklocker ?

  55. Joseph J. Neuschatz M.D. on October 4, 2009 2:06 pm

    I just wrote:

    “Could this be due to the fact that my paperback edition comes from Booklocker ?”

    I meant:

    “Could this be punishment for the fact that my paperback edition comes from Booklocker ?”

    BEST,

    JJN