If you look back at some of my posts from April 2008, you’ll see that at that time Amazon was threatening to monopolize the print-on-demand (POD) publishing industry. Amazon wanted all POD publishers to print their books using BookSurge, a POD owned by Amazon. In other words, they wanted all POD publishers to pay Amazon via BookSurge to print their books. If they didn’t agree to do so by signing a contract, Amazon said it would remove the “buy it now” buttons from Amazon.com for all their authors’ books. This sent a lot of authors who were about to or planned to self-publish running to BookSurge, despite the company’s quality issues. It also caused some POD publishers to sign that Amazon contract in an effort to keep those “buy it now” buttons working.
One POD publisher, however, fought back: BookLocker. Despite a run in I had with Angela Hoy, who runs BookLocker and WritersWeekly.com (see this post), I gave her a lot of credit (and still do) for doing what the whole industry should have done–stand up to Amazon. She not only boycotted Amazon.com (which some other POD publishers and many writers did as well) and refused to sign Amazon’s contract (which quite a few POD publishers did not), but also filed a class-action lawsuit against Amazon, alleging their actions violated federal antitrust laws.
In the latest issue of WritersWeekly.com Hoy provides an update on the Amazon/BookSurge antitrust lawsuit. According to an article Hoy published in WritersWeekly.com, Hoy says Amazon filed a motion to dismiss, in August, 2009, but Chief U.S. District Judge John Woodcock Jr. issued a 26-page order denying Amazon’s motion. Amazon then opted to settle before discovery began.
Two months later, a settlement was reached, with, I believe, money awarded going to charity. (Nice, touch, Angela…) You can read the final settlement HERE.
You might be interested to know that Amazon recently retired the BookSurge name. It now does POD business under the name CreateSpace.
As for winning the antitrust lawsuit, Hoy reports, “We didn’t do this for the money. We did it to make Amazon understand that covert efforts aimed at forcing POD publishers to pay Amazon / BookSurge (now Createspace) to print their books is not the way responsible corporate citizens should act. By getting Amazon to rescind their pay-us-to-print-your-books-or-else policy, we believe BookLocker’s lawsuit achieved its goal.”
I would like to thank Hoy and BookLocker for taking up the fight for all authors who want to self-publish their books and for all POD publishers. POD publishers should never have felt bullied into printing their books with BookSurge (or any other publishing house) so they would be free to sell their books on line at Amazon.com like other publishing companies.
We can all breath a bit more easily now, and we can self-publish with the POD of our choice without fear that our books won’t be sold on Amazon.com, which–unfortunately–remains the primary online bookseller.