An Important Lesson from Amazon on How NOT to Treat Your Customers.

GRR!!!!! I hate it when people get so FOCUSED upon the bottom line that they lose sight of the long term consequences of their actions!!!!

Angela Hoy is the publisher of the Writer’s Weekly which she uses to promote her POD publishing business, On Friday, Angela launched a firestorm when she reported that Amazon is putting the squeeze on POD publishers.

So here’s the deal… Amazon executives are doing their best “Tony Soprano” impression by threatening to remove the “buy” buttons from POD (print on demand) titles listed on the site that ARE NOT printed by Amazon’s own Book Surge POD. “Do this and nobody gets hurt,” is the implication. The problem is, someone is going to get hurt and my guess is it will be Amazon.

Amazon was the first hog to the internet book selling trough. In the early days, when you signed up as an Amazon affiliate, you could choose to be paid in “books” instead of dollars. I know that is how I still choose to be paid for my Amazon affiliate commissions. The thing is, authors are readers by nature. Angela confesses to spending over $1500 last year on Amazon.  That may be a bit above “average” but maybe not.  I just realized the figure I gave my CPA was only for the books I bought, not the ones I “bought” using my affiliate earnings!

So, authors are big book buyers… and Amazon was a pioneer in the whole internet affiliate marketing model. By removing the “buy” button for POD works on the site, Amazon is not only going to lose their author /customers.  These authors may not be buying copies of their own book from the retail giant, but I’m sure they are buying other author’s works through the site.  However, in addition to peeving off their biggest spending customers…. Amazon is  also going to lose a portion of their affiliate sales network as well.  My guess would be that those affiliates are probably part of the productive 20% of the old 80/20 rule which applies to affiliates and their sales in SPADES.

My mother used to refer to such actions as “cutting off your nose to spite your face”.

There’s a HUGE firestorm brewing over Angela’s revelation. So far over 60 blogs have weighed in to comment and I’m sure that Monday morning… more will join the cause. The very NATURE of Web 2.0 is for this type of story to go “viral”. (I hope Booklocker’s web hosting company is ready for this onslaught!)

POD authors who link to Amazon to sell their books will be changing those links and they probably won’t wait until the buy button is removed. Once they go to the time and effort to “switch” the links promoting their book from Amazon to Barnes and Noble… THEY WILL NOT take the time to switch them back to Amazon if Amazon backs down from this stand.

Now, Slashdot has picked up the story… suddenly this fight will extend BEYOND authors and into regular book readers who will be outraged at the “Big Bully” tactics being employed by Amazon. Nobody likes a bully… and until now, Amazon didn’t look like a bully.

Amazon loses all around. They lose the sales… they lose the links… they lose the relationship with thousands of authors… A.K.A. their customers!!!!

It’s obvious that the long term consequences of this action have yet to dawn on the executives at Amazon. Perhaps they thought no one would speak up. Looks like Amazon needs a lesson in Web 2.0.  You know the old saying… “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”?  I think this may be just such a case.

Here is a list of other bloggers (from Angela’s article page) taking up the fight. If you want to add your post to the “cause”… the post a comment to this post. If you’ve got your own blog, copy this list and post it on your blog as well. The more links to these posts… the more “traction” this cause will get.