Amazon forgetting its roots?

We’re sure it was only a few years ago that Amazon could be counted among the ranks of start-ups, but it looks as though the tables have turned after it was revealed last week the company plans to impose new payment terms on beleaguered small publishers.

In an email sent last week, the company gave publishers using its Amazon Advantage payment system the choice between accepting an additional 2% off the list price of stock or six-week payment terms.

The publishers, many of whom are already giving the company up to 60% off the list price of their books, are understandably in uproar. One publisher told industry magazine The Bookseller Amazon is ‘trying to take an extra month . . . In these tough times, it’s absolutely outrageous picking on small guys’, while The Sunday Times reported another saying: “It it just a further hit on our margins – and at the worst possible time, with many of our high-street customers struggling in a really difficult retail environment.”

Amazon is one of the world's largest retail websites, grossing £2.2bn last year. The revelation is bound to be a bit embarrassing for the company - it hit controversy just before Christmas after The Sunday Times found it makes its packing staff work long shifts and penalises them for being ill.

It's a shame, because buying from Amazon used to feel a bit cool – a bit like giving the proverbial finger to big, faceless book chains such as Waterstones or Borders. Now, though, it looks as though that particular love affair is over.

Time to find somewhere else to buy our books: Smarta thinks it might that cosy-looking second-hand place down the road...

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