Remember when Barnes & Noble proclaimed it would not carry any books offered by Amazon publishers (in stores—if people wanted to order them from, they would be happy to ship them) if B&N would not be able to carry the e-book versions for its Nook? At the time, I wrote:

B&N is making a lot of noise, but then turning around and trying to have its cake and eat it too. I predict this principled stand will last only until Amazon comes out with a best-selling title that everyone wants to get their hands on. Then watch B&N turn around and carry Amazon titles after all, “bowing to overwhelming customer demand” or some such excuse.

And I was right—perhaps not so much in the specific details of it being a best-seller, but in general about Barnes & Noble deciding to make exceptions to its policy. PaidContent is carrying a story about Barnes & Noble ejecting 450 Marshall Cavendish children’s book titles from its stores in January after Amazon acquired them for its Amazon Publishing arm.

However, yesterday the Authors Guild announced that Barnes & Noble has agreed to an Authors Guild request to bring the Marshall Cavendish books back to its stores. The Authors Guild notes that it is quite concerned about Amazon’s behavior of late (and given their recent posts we’ve covered here, that’s putting it mildly), but that “authors and readers [should] not become collateral damage.” The Marshall Cavendish authors had no way of knowing their books would be optioned to Amazon, the Guild pointed out, and do not deserve to be punished for their publisher’s actions. However:

Meanwhile, Barnes & Noble isn’t backing down. Its executives made clear to us that it is making this exception because it announced the policy after Amazon announced its purchase of the Marshall Cavendish titles. For any new Amazon acquisitions, Barnes & Noble’s policy is to ban the books from their shelves.

The odd thing is, as PaidContent points out, Barnes & Noble actually announced that policy back in August, in a Publishers Weekly interview with CEO William Lynch. And Barnes & Noble pulled all of DC Comics’s books from its stores in October (followed a couple of weeks later by Books a Million) after DC announced an exclusive deal with Amazon to put them on the Kindle Fire, so it was clearly implementing this policy before the January announcement.

But if Barnes & Noble wants to relax its anti-Amazon stance to help some authors, I suppose the company can justify the decision however it wants. But it had probably better steel itself to hurting more authors and readers in the future if it wants to maintain its anti-Amazon stance—or else figure out some better excuse for the next exception it makes.


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