Friday, August 29, 2014

Round 10 of the Amazon vs Everybody Wars: Amazon vs Japan

In this week's round of the Amazon vs Everybody Wars, Amazon is taking on Japan.

Amazon is exploiting its position as Japan's largest book retailer by ranking publishers according to how much they pay Amazon. The publishers with the highest ranking are given top billing on the Amazon Japan website.

Publishers are calling it "blackmail." 

Amazon is calling it "business as usual."

The manipulation of Amazon Japan is just one more in a long string of extortionist tactics that include removing pre-orders from books published by "uncooperative" publishing companies (Hachette and Macmillan), and removing new video titles from Disney and Time Warner. So far this year, Amazon has incurred the wrath of the FTC, the Author's Guild, Germany, and France as well as thousands of authors.

But in spite of being dissed by the German Minister of Culture, Amazon continues to expand. It has gobbled up Goodreads, where it immediately began deleting reviews it found unfavorable, and purchased Twitch, the video-game livestreaming site (where it will no doubt employ the same tactics). Meanwhile Amazon has cut royalty rates on audiobooks, leaving many self-publishers in the lurch.

And the year ain't over yet.

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Book publishers shout foul over Amazon Japan's new ratings

Asahi Shimbun, August 28, 2014

By Mayumi Mori/ Staff Writer

Online retail giant Amazon Japan introduced a new system this summer to rank book publishers, a decision that has not gone down well with its business partners.

Amazon Japan is the nation's largest book retailer for paper and electronic media. Its new system gives higher rankings to publishers that pay higher fees to Amazon Japan and to publishers with larger eBook catalogs.

Additionally, eBooks from publishers ranked higher are given more prominence on the Amazon.co.jp website.

Many publishers, including high-profile publishing houses, have protested the move, calling it a form of "blackmail" that exploits the company's considerable dominance in the book retailing industry.

"Wouldn't antitrust authorities start to wonder if Amazon Japan is taking advantage of its monopolistic position in the market?" said Bungeishunju Ltd. when it protested to Amazon Japan in June.

Japanese publishers are continuing to hold talks with Amazon Japan.

Disagreements between parent company, Amazon.com Inc., and publishers are intensifying worldwide.

In the United States, 900 renowned authors protested against Amazon for putting pressure on publishers that resisted the company's demands to lower eBook prices by delaying the shipping of their books.

Media analyst Satoshi Osawa said if publishers start to only focus on dealing with the retailing giant, "it could lead to lower quality of their products."

An official with Amazon Japan's public relations department said, "It's difficult to comment because the issue deals with individual contracts."

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