Everything may not be awesome at Amazon. Various news sources including the New York Times Bits blog are reporting that Amazon has removed the pre-order buttons from various upcoming Warner Home Video DVD and Blu-ray titles, including The LEGO Movie, 300: Rise of an Empire, Winter’s Tale, and Transcendence. Instead of the pre-order button, there is an option to sign up for notification when the movie becomes available. Apparently this started sometime in May, but people have only been starting to notice it now.
That’s right, it’s another contract dispute (though unlike with Hachette, there’s no sign Amazon is delaying DVD shipments; presumably Warner is better at sending them right when they’re ordered, or perhaps Amazon hasn’t taken the step of reducing its inventory on those items yet). David Streitfeld at the Bits Blog suggests that people aren’t as likely to get upset over this as the Hachette move, “since DVDs do not carry the cultural weight of books.” I’m not so sure, though. I suspect a lot more people watch DVDs—especially the DVDs of new smash hit movies, like LEGO—than read books, so this one might hit Amazon’s customers right where they live.
Of course, if Amazon isn’t delaying shipping of these items, there’s not all that much practical difference between pre-ordering and ordering when it becomes available. You just have a little more inconvenience, and you’re also not going to get the item on or a little before its street date. Even so, that’s got to annoy the impatient.
Why are we having these contract disputes pop up all of a sudden? Are suppliers just suddenly deciding to stand up to Amazon as the NYT blog suggests, or is Amazon starting to tighten its grip harder than it has before? There have been signs that investors are starting to grow less patient with Amazon’s failure to show a profit, which could account for Amazon seeking to widen its margins. I wonder how many more Amazon suppliers will lose their pre-order buttons before the year is out?
In other Amazon-related news, Reuters cites anonymous sources who claim Amazon will be launching a marketplace for local services later this year, competing with sites like Yelp and Angie’s List. Could be interesting.