I wrote a week ago about how Amazon reached an agreement with mega book publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and that it might have been a move to get certain Amazon Publishing titles in Barnes & Noble bookstores. Well, Barnes & Noble has said that ain’t gonna happen.
Barnes & Noble — the largest brick-and-mortar bookstore in the US with over 700 locations — has said in the past that it won’t sell any books in its stores if it can’t also sell those books as ebooks at BarnesandNoble.com. And then today the company clarified and announced that it will not sell any books from Amazon Publishing, including those from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Here’s part of a statement from Jaime Carey, Barnes & Noble’s chief merchandising officer:
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 e-books to our customers. 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. [via the New York Times]
This isn’t altogether surprising, and I don’t really blame Barnes & Noble. I wouldn’t want to help my arch-nemesis sell more books, either.
This will be a big year for Amazon Publishing, as it has exclusive publishing rights to a number of highly-anticipated upcoming books, including those by Tim Ferriss (author of the 4 Hour Workweek and 4 Hour Body), Deepak Chopra (spirituality guru), James Franco (actor and host of last year’s Oscars), and Penny Marshall (who played Laverne in the TV show Laverne and Shirley).
The real question here is this: Will this move hurt Amazon or Barnes & Noble more? To be honest, I don’t think most of us know enough about the publishing business and these two companies to say for sure. But from the outside, it looks like Amazon will come off better in the end. Why? Because at the end of the day, Amazon will likely still be making money from these titles (though admittedly, it might not be as much as if B&N were to sell the books, too). And Barnes & Noble will be end up making no money from the arrangement.
I wonder how many conversations like this will play out:
Customer: Excuse me, but where can I find Deepak Chopra’s new book?
B&N Employee: We unfortunately don’t carry that book.
Customer: When will you get it in?
B&N Employee: We won’t be getting it in. We won’t be stocking that title.
Customer: Oh, that’s too bad. I’ll just order it on Amazon then.
And then the customer won’t even bother going into B&N next time…