What Amazon’s New Buy Box Policy Means for Indie Authors

In recent weeks, Amazon’s new Buy Box policy has received a fair amount of industry attention and blowback, leaving publishers and authors speculating about Amazon’s motives for implementing it. While some think the industry reaction is a tempest in a teacup, with publishers raising their hackles once again over an Amazon business decision, others see the policy—which allows third-party sellers to “win” the Buy Box, thus relegating publisher listings to the “Other Sellers on Amazon” section—as an aggressive move against publishers and authors.

Amazon has long enjoyed the widespread support of independent authors, who rightly credit the retail giant for their ability to be authors at all. Without Amazon, most indie authors would have no means of reaching a broad readership. Many will recall the 2014 open letter on Change.org endorsed by 27 authors, including J.A. Konrath and Hugh Howey, condemning New York publishing and championing Amazon, reading in part:

“Major publishers like Hachette have a long history of treating authors and readers poorly. Amazon, on the other hand, has built its reputation on valuing authors and readers dearly.”

One might wonder if, given this kind of author loyalty, Amazon felt emboldened to change its book policies yet again. The Buy Box change was announced in November 2016 without much fanfare, in a seller forum notifying vendors: “Sellers will be able to compete for the Buy Box for Books in new condition.” The language of the announcement was geared toward vendors, not publishers or author-publishers.

And despite the controversy, some people’s reaction to the change has been ambivalent: So what if a publisher’s listing ranks third or fourth under “Other Sellers on Amazon?” The argument supporters of Amazon love to make is that e-tail giant is just beating publishers at their own game — so publishers should start playing the game better and stop complaining.

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SOURCE: Publishers Weekly
Brooke Warner