Amazon.co.uk – A Case of Deja Vu?

“Déjà vu is the experience of feeling sure that one has witnessed or experienced a new situation previously (an individual feels as though an event has already happened or has happened in the near past), although the exact circumstances of the previous encounter are uncertain. The experience of déjà vu is usually accompanied by a compelling sense of familiarity, and also a sense of ‘eeriness’, ‘strangeness’, or ‘weirdness’. The ‘previous’ experience is most frequently attributed to a dream, although in some cases there is a firm sense that the experience ‘genuinely happened’ in the past.”
Yes, that pretty much sums up the feeling of publishers who received a recent email from Amazon.co.uk about a proposed ‘fine’ for rejected deliveries. Catherine Neilan, writing in today’s Bookseller.com reports:

[…]”Amazon.co.uk is to start charging publishers £500 for ‘rejected deliveries’ and could introduce a range of other charges, according to a leaked email.

Starting 24th August, charges will apply to anyone who fails to meet the retailer’s compliance ‘requirements [as] detailed in the vendor manual’. In the email sent to publishers, the £500 fee is described as an “initial” fine, suggesting additional sums could be applied. Amazon.co.uk also said that ‘the coming months’ would see this charge extended to ‘include fees for other critical operational requirements’.”[…]

Have we not been down this byway with Amazon.com early last year when similar strong-arm tactics were used to make publishers using print on demand use Amazon’s own printer, Booksurge. This tactic also resulted, on occasion, the removal of ‘buy’ buttons on books.

While the threat of fines collected through publishers’ inventory payments may be directed more to smaller independent publishers – the crack of flexing muscles will still echo through the industry as a whole. This is a constant reminder of the extent publishers have lost control of their industry, in particular, to the retail sector. Amazon argue in the email that this is all about improving customer service quality and making the vendor processes as efficient as possible.

We will watch this one with anticipation, but right now, Amazon has served the ball, and it remains firmly in the court of the publishers together.

The full Bookseller.com article is here.

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