Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Amazon and the Out of Print lie

Amazon is listing some of our books as “Out of Print” when they are not out of print. This misinformation has both business and legal ramifications to the extent that anyone believes Amazon.

“Out of Print” is a long-standing publishing term meaning that a book is no longer available from the publisher and is not expected to become available again in the near future.

Amazon is free to say that they do not have copies of a book. They are free to say that they don’t want to have copies of a book, or that they don’t like a book. But they are not free to lie to customers by saying that a book is out of print when it isn’t. That lie can cause a customer to give up on finding a way to buy the book. That lie can damage the reputation of a publisher who keeps books in print. That lie can convince an author that the rights should be reverting back to the author if the contract allows for that when a book goes out of print. That lie can cause someone to think that photocopying or scanning the book is ok if they believe that they are allowed to do so (or should be allowed to do so) with out of print books.

I have seen this same misleading behavior from Amazon before. I talked with someone in their legal department many years ago, who agreed that Amazon should stop doing that and who promptly made sure that our books were not wrongly listed as being out of print. And yet Amazon is back to the same old dirty tricks (or perhaps never really stopped).

No comments: