Folks are wondering why some booksellers and librarians are upset about Nancy Pearl launching a publishing line with Amazon.com. There are as many individual reasons as there are aggrieved parties of course, but the main argument against Pearl's choice comes down to two points—one emotional and one financial. The emotional point is a simple one: Some booksellers and librarians simply can't stand Amazon.com or anything that Amazon.com touches. (While this looks histrionic to certain bystanders, it's understandable: Imagine if your whole industry, the way you make your living and your friendships, was slowly being replaced by a smaller, leaner organization that had no use for you. If you say you'd be logical and calm in accepting that happening to you, you're lying.) And here's the financial reason: Some booksellers simply resent the fact that there's no fair way for them to stock the new books from Pearl's line in their stores. Seattle Mystery Bookshop explained the math in a blog post yesterday:
One of the first books [in Pearl's line] to be released is Merle Miller's A Gay and Meloncholy Sound (we know nothing about this book and have just picked it as an example). Amazon notes that it will be available on April 2nd at a list price of $14.95. However, they're selling it for $8.97, a 40% savings. You save $5.98. If you buy the e-book version for Kindle (something you cannot do through us), you pay only $5.99. You see, they're not only undercutting any other bookseller, they're also undercutting themselves...Thus, it is uneconomical for us to stock and sell printed books published by Amazon and we believe it would be financially pointless for any independent to do so. (And, again, while we can sell e-books through our new website, no one but Amazon can sell the versions for Kindle - that is proprietary) If you can't realistically make money selling something, why stock it? You can't and expect to keep your business healthy.
There's simply no way for a bookseller to carry Pearl's books without raising the price for the consumer or losing money to The Great Walmart in the Sky. After years of supporting Pearl's books and readings—and after years of Pearl stopping by local bookstores and libraries to find out what's hot at the moment—that feels like a betrayal to them.