The Amazon Problem

Andrew AlbaneseLinus van Pelt, the resident intellectual of the Peanuts comic strip, once articulated his philosophy of life as, “No problem is so big or so complicated that it can’t be run away from.”

For many years, one could argue, such was the view of book publishers when it came to Amazon. Yet the Amazon problem grew faster than anyone could run. At long last, escape is not an option.

“If there is an Amazon problem, it is much bigger than the book business,” observes Andrew Albanese, Publishers Weekly senior writer. “It is a problem that we as a nation need to discuss— about how our big box economy should be balanced with our main street economy, and how our online economy is changing that dynamic even further.”

A solution to the Amazon problem obviously won’t be coming soon, yet at least one publisher has got to a deal with the e-retail giant.

“This week, we learned that Amazon has struck a new terms of sale agreement with Simon & Schuster. We know it is multi-year deal, and that S&S CEO Carolyn Reidy said it is a version of the agency model. The deal allows S&S – with exceptions – control over the price of its e-books, and gives Amazon some limited discounting ability,” Albanese tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally. “Reidy said S&S was happy with the deal, and that it maintains the publishers and authors current share of income generated by e-book sales.”

Every Friday, CCC’s “Beyond the Book” speaks with the editors and reporters of “Publishers Weekly” for an early look at the news that publishers, editors, authors, agents and librarians will be talking about when they return to work on Monday.

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