March 2, 2012

Another major player announces boycott of Amazon in support of IPG


O'Reilly Media publisher Joe Wikert

One of publishing’s smartest and most-watched publishers yesterday announced he was “breaking the Amazon habit,” in large part because of the attack by Amazon against the Independent Publishers Group (IPG).

In a blog post called “Why I’m Breaking the Amazon Habit … And Why You Should, Too,” O’Reilly Media publisher Joe Wikert begins by saying “Kudos to [IPG president] Mark Suchomel and the stance he’s taking with Amazon” and goes on to detail how, “In a few short months I’ve gone from Amazon fan to Amazon critic.”

To be clear, Wikert seemed to be speaking for himself and not O’Reilly Media, and his reasons extend beyond Amazon’s IPG attack — he doesn’t like the way Amazon tries to lock Kindle users into buying only from Amazon, he thinks the Kindle Lending Library is ripping off publishers and writers, and he is still, particularly appalled by the price check app scandal (“Did Amazon really need to take such an over-the-top approach and poke brick-and-mortars in the eye with the price check incentives on December 9th? This, after all the years of having a built-in price advantage over many of those brick-and-mortar stores because of state tax deals and loopholes.”)

But in the end, it seems the thing that really triggered it for him was when Amazon pulled the buy buttons of IPG’s 400-plus publishers. As he puts it,

Many of you are probably shrugging your shoulders and saying this is all about choice. Publishers can remain out of the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library program if they don’t like the terms. And customers were showrooming long before Amazon released their app; if I don’t like it, I shouldn’t do it myself and/or I should buy from other vendors. IPG’s choice was to take a stand and now their Kindle editions aren’t available on Amazon.

You’re right. This is about choice. I’ve been choosing Amazon for all my ebooks up to now and it’s time to put my money where my mouth is.

Many in the industry look to O’Reilly Media as being prescient about foretelling the direction of publishing, particularly in terms of technological developments. Is their publisher onto something again?


Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House. Follow him on Twitter at @mobylives