Canadian bookstore chain Indigo has added its voice to Barnes & Noble and Books a Million in stating that it will not carry books published by Amazon’s publishing imprint, the Globe and Mail reports. Indigo issued the standard statement decrying Amazon’s predatory tactics and congratulating Barnes & Noble for “taking a leadership stance on the matter.” Not too surprising, especially given that Indigo was the creator of Kobo, one of the only serious e-book competitors Amazon has.

The Globe and Mail article characterizes this as a “setback” for Amazon, and quotes the Wall Street Journal that this is “sending a signal” to authors, agents, and publishers who might have been considering signing such agreements. It refers to authors “whose upcoming work will become inaccessible to the majority of North American book buyers.”

Say what? “Inaccessible”? “Majority”? I don’t think that those words mean what you think they mean. Going by Foner Books’s sales statistics, Amazon did more book, music, and DVD business in 2011 than Barnes & Noble, the late Borders, and put together. Seems like the “majority” of North American book buyers shop Amazon.

Anybody who has “access” to the Internet has access to Amazon. (Or, for that matter,, where Barnes & Noble will carry Amazon’s books.) And those who don’t should still be able to check the books out from the local library, which might lead to liking them enough to order them.

(Granted, there are some people who don’t—every so often in my day job I run across the proverbial little old man or lady who doesn’t have a computer or the Internet and so can’t download the manuals for our TVs from our website. But they’re considerably in the minority by now—and even if they don’t have Internet at home, they could place orders from a library or Internet café if they wanted it badly enough.)

Of course, there is something to be said for being able to run across the books while physically browsing a store. Losing that will be a disadvantage for Amazon, which might be part of why it’s rumored to be considering its own chain of brick and mortar stores. But on the other hand, the high-profile authors Amazon is courting will have a high level of demand independent of accidental browsing discoveries, which could help render that loss irrelevant.

(Found via The Digital Reader.)


  1. It sure is “sending a signal” to authors etc. Bookstores like Indigo are obsolete & irrelevant. And they don’t care about authors OR readers, because they restrict access to books. If they cared about readers, they’d promise to deliver them the books they want; if they cared about authors, they’d sell their books. No matter. Amazon’s doing just fine. Lol.

  2. Let’s see, Amazon has lower prices, customer-friendly policies and fantastic service. Barnes & Noble charges higher prices, lies about the specs of its e-readers and frankly doesn’t have very good customer service. Plus they are taking away things that my family has traditionally valued about their stores, like music listening stations. This leaves me feeling not at all guilty about favoring Amazon, which I will continue to do until somebody figures out how to lure some of my business away. Refusing to carry books published by Amazon is a tactic that will achieve nothing, as far as I can see.

  3. Very shortsighted on their part. Doesn’t this just drive more people to Amazon? If a customer asks for one of the Amazon books, what does the customer say when the clerk says they don’t carry it? Does the customer say, “Well, OK, I’ll get something else then”? No, the customer says “Fine, I’ll order it from Amazon. More likely, the customer never sets foot in the bricks & mortar store and just orders from Amazon, which the customer has been doing for years.

    Amazon already has the best selection, this will just be one more pile of books that they have that no one else does.

    Frankly, if I were an independent store owner, I’d find a way to partner with Amazon. Hitching your star to a proven winner could mean survival in the book business.

  4. The only way a person would know these titles exist is if they saw them on Amazon. Or the author’s website with direct links to Amazon as required by their contract. It is unlikely they would, after seeing the title, grab their hat and coat and drive to the nearest B&N. The most convenient action would be to one-click the ebook to your Kindle or purchase Amazon’s print edition for delivery in two days. Being that the ebook is half the paperback price we can guess which action is more popular.

    And remember it is Amazon refusing to let the other retailers sell the ebook.

  5. I am quite surprised to find comments about the ubiquity of internet access. I was only reading the NYT last month when I read:
    “According to numbers released last month by the Department of Commerce, a mere 4 out of every 10 households with annual household incomes below $25,000 in 2010 reported having wired Internet access at home”. Something for the author to note.

    Speaking personally I find it a retrograde step and a capricious step when businesses refuse to carry the product of specific producers they don’t like. It is anti consumer and anti customer and it puts paid to any false claim by these businesses that they care about their customers.

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