Amazon has found itself on tense terms with publishers as it begins to really use its size and power to gain favorable terms in distribution deals, notably with the major publisher Hachette. Now, the BBC and trade publication The Bookseller are reporting that Amazon is attempting to introduce some strong new terms in its contracts with small UK publishers as well, one of which is calling them an act of "bullying." Among those is the ability for Amazon to begin printing books itself should a publisher run out of copies, allowing Amazon to continue quickly filling orders. The BBC reports, however, that Amazon would be using "print-on-demand" equipment, which generally produces a lower-quality copy than a publisher would make on a traditional press.
Amazon wants the deals that everyone else gets too
Beyond that, Amazon is also said to be asking for a "most favored nation" clause, requiring that publishers offer any promotions to Amazon that they offer to any other party — including themselves. Under such terms, the BBC reports, Amazon would be able to discount a book even when a publisher discounts that book on its own website. Other terms of these alleged contract proposals would require that publishers offer the same ebook pricing to Amazon as they do to any other party.
Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment on these alleged proposals. If accurate, these contracts would put Amazon in an even stronger position than it currently holds, though there's no sign that publishers are willing to agree to them. Publishers the BBC spoke with were troubled by the terms; others warned that they could destroy the industry. Amazon has apparently put forth similar terms in the past and been rebuffed, but it's reportedly now presenting these terms again in a far more aggressive manner. It's not clear how, exactly, but Amazon has already shown that it's willing to harness its position and harm publishers during contract disputes by effectively withholding their titles from its customers.