You may have read about the standoff between Amazon.com and the Macmillan publishing company. Macmillan had objected to Amazon’s pricing, particularly its loss-leader $9.99 e-book price for new books. In turn, Amazon.com temporarily halted the sale of all Macmillan books. This meant Amazon customers could only buy such books from third-party vendors; the regular Amazon “buy” button had been moved.
A few days later, Amazon began to sell Macmillan’s books again. But the Authors Guild wants to protect its members against such future actions. Here is the notice the Guild recently distributed; it plainly views Amazon as something less than a trusted partner:
The Authors Guild is pleased to announce the launch of WhoMovedMyBuyButton.com, which is now live in fully-functional beta form. Who Moved My Buy Button? allows authors to keep track of whether Amazon has removed the “buy buttons” from any of their books.
Simply register the ISBNs of any books you’d like monitored, and our web tool will check daily to make sure your buy buttons are safe and sound. If there’s a problem, we’ll e-mail you an alert.
Although we’ve launched WhoMovedMyBuyButton.com in response to Amazon’s wholesale removal of buy buttons from Macmillan titles, we believe Amazon should be monitored for years to come. Amazon’s developed quite a fondness for employing this draconian tactic (there’s a chronology at the website); it’s only grown bolder with its growing market clout.
Vigilance is called for: sounding off is our best collective defense. Register your ISBNs today — it’s free and open to all authors, Guild members and not. (Though we’d prefer you join.)