On the Huffington Post, the co-publisher of small press OR Books explains why he doesn't want to be carried by Amazon:
To sell our titles, Amazon would require a discount of 55% or even 60%, that's $11 or $12 on a $20 book. Amazon would use some of this money to discount the book to its customers — that's what gives it its edge. If, as a publisher, you try matching their reduced price, Amazon will insist your new, lower price is the basis for their discount, so they can cut their price still further. That makes it pretty much impossible for you to compete with direct sales to your customers.
For their very substantial take on a book, Amazon will rarely do more than simply make it available. Rather than going out and finding customers, it waits for them to come to it....But at OR Books, our calculation is that, for the amount of money we would have to give Amazon, we can do a better job finding customers ourselves.
This is indicative of a larger struggle going on in the publishing world today, and one that Matthew Stadler's Publication Studio seems to be betting on, too: Smaller publishers are accepting that they don't need to sell a billion copies to everyone and are more interested in finding their own audience. This lower-waste approach makes more sense for small presses compared to the buckshot approach of Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Costco, and we'll see a few models pop up in the next few years that are profitable enough.
In other news, Kindle readers who are angry that Michael Lewis's new book is not available in ebook form are giving the book one-star reviews on Amazon as protest, and TechCrunch's Paul Carr is hopping mad about it:
A book’s overall star rating is one of the most prominent pieces of information on an Amazon page and many readers — quite reasonably — equate a low average rating with a poorly written book. This damages sales of the book and also damages our reputations as writers. Almost nobody — unless they click through and read the full text of the negative reviews — sees a one star rating and assumes its a comment on the decision by the publisher to withhold an electronic edition.
This one-star thing has happened before and, unless Amazon changes their review policies, it will happen again.