Today, Amazon officially announced Amazon Source, a program in which independent booksellers would sell Kindles and then earn a small percentage from every e-book sold to that Kindle. Nate Hoffelder at the Digital Reader explains:
Booksellers will be able to sell Kindles, Kindle Fires, and accessories in store (at a 6% to 35% markdown). They’ll also earn a 10% commission on the ebooks purchased via the Kindles they sell. The retailers can also buy the hardware at a deeper discount (9%) but they’ll have to forgo the 10% commission.
Back in May and June of this year, I wrote that Amazon representatives were reaching out to booksellers across the country for a program that sounds a lot like Amazon Source. Every bookseller who forwarded the e-mails or tipped me off to this program back then couldn't believe Amazon's audacity. I bet they're flabbergasted by the news that it's gone public.
The Amazon Source page features testimonials from two Washington State booksellers who have agreed to take part in the program, the University of Puget Sound Campus Bookstore in Tacoma and JJ Books in Bothell. I can't imagine that many booksellers will take part in this program. Through the American Bookselling Assocation, independent bookstores already sell devices and e-books through Canadian e-book retailer Kobo, and Amazon has proven to be the enemy of independent retailers time and again. Still, it's another sign—combined with what appears to be the failure of Amazon's attempt to get into the publishing business—that there is a piece of the book-buying market that Amazon can't quite manage to crack without the help of brick-and-mortar stores.