Amazon tries new approach in appeasing independent bookstores

Amazon tries new approach in appeasing independent bookstores

Summary: Independent bookstores (and almost every other kind of small retail shop) aren't known to be the biggest fans of the online big box store.


Amazon has been doling out Kindle promos left and right this week, and the latest scheme looks like a new approach in appeasing brick-and-mortar book stores.

Independent bookstores (and almost every other kind of small retail shop) aren't known to be the biggest fans of the online big box store, to say the least.

The reasons are obvious, but just to paint a picture, it only takes a few seconds on a mobile device to determine how much one could save by getting a book (paperback, digital, whatever) on Amazon versus the overwhelming majority of local mom-and-pop shops.

In anticipation of the holiday season not to mention the recent rise of "showrooming" (basically as explained above), the Seattle-headquartered operation has launched a new program for independent bookstores and other retailers to earn extra money for selling Kindle devices and accessories.

Dubbed Amazon Source, the program offers retailers with two potential paths:

  • Bookseller program: Retailers will earn 10 percent from the sale of each Kindle book purchased by their customers from their Kindle devices for up to two years from the original device purchase date. This is in addition to the discount the bookseller receives when purchasing the devices and accessories from Amazon.
  • General retail program: Intended more for non-bookselling retailers; They'll get a larger discount when purchasing Kindle devices from Amazon, but won't receive revenue from their customers’ Kindle book purchases.

While this certainly won't patch up the entire divide between Amazon and independent stores nationwide, it could be applied as a quick (albeit very temporary) band-aid for some businesses.

Nevertheless, there are naturally several caveats already that need to be minded. For one, Amazon Source isn't available in every state yet. A full list of which states are eligible is on the program's FAQ page.

For those who pick up hardware via the general retail program, also note that Amazon Source is a B2B business and not Prime eligible -- meaning no free two-day shipping when receiving Kindle device stock orders. Amazon promised it will charge only $1 per tablet, e-reader, and accessory.

Additionally, the 10 percent return only applies to e-book purchases and single-issue periodicals. Magazine subscriptions, video content, apps and other types of paid content are not eligible.

Retailers will also have the option of switching between the two programs in case one or the other doesn't fit for them -- but only once per year.

Topics: E-Commerce, Amazon, Consumerization, Mobility, Tablets

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  • They'd have to be crazy

    For two years of 10% share, I'm going to sell my own customers on a trojan horse that will cause them to never need me again? You may be able to make a point that the booksellers are doomed anyway, even argue that their business model is past its time. Whatever your position, though, this is suicide, it just takes a little longer.
    • Exactly

      Any bookseller that takes Amazon up on this proposition is just speeding up their own demise.
  • Here's a win-win idea

    I don't go into bookstores much, mostly because I feel lame looking at their stock then buying a Kindle book. I would love to browse with a clear conscience. I'd pay to do it. So imagine this scenario. I go into the retailer and find a book I want to buy. I scan the UPC and yes, Amazon has it for Kindle. I check the box that says "Tip retailer" (browser uses location services to suggest which retailer it is), and 5% is added to my cost on that book. The 5% I contributed, plus a matching 5% from Amazon, goes to the retailer, as a thank-you for selling me on the book.

    That would get me into bookstores, where I would sometimes just give them the 10%, and might sometimes buy physical books.

    Another scenario: I look around and find several books I want. I carry them to the front, and pay the retailer the Kindle price for each. The retailer rings it up, sends the list to Amazon, and the books go to my default Kindle and the retailer gets a cut.

    I LIKE bookstores, but I love the convenience of carrying 100 books in my pocket. I'm not going back, so I would welcome a means of supporting the local business. And I would pay extra to do so. I know it costs the retailer money to have that stock on hand, and I'm willing to pay to browse.
  • Bookstores are already dead

    There used to be 5 bookshops near my house. Now they have all closed, so I can't easily visit a bookshop. Paper books take up a lot of space and are more expensive than eBooks.
    So now almost all the books I buy are for my Kindle. I no longer really have the choice to browse and buy in a local book shop.