Want to buy the original Macmillan published version of the General Theory today from Amazon.com? You can’t. Amazon has deleted it and every other Macmillan title from its store over a dispute between Amazon and Macmillan over eBook pricing. Let me repeat: every book not just eBooks for the Kindle. So if you wanted to by the latest from Orson Scott Card, as I did, you have to go through other retailers. I don’t have a Barnes and Nobel account but may get one today because what I liked about Amazon was that it was likely to have every title.
It is hard to understand what is going on. This post is as informative as it gets. It looks like Macmillan would like to charge more for its eBooks and to receive a greater share than Amazon is willing to give. Fair enough. In other places, that has led to titles being removed that are part of the dispute. But to extend that to the bigger and otherwise stable broader book market is a more troubling move. Of course, the deletion is only for the US. You can still get Macmillan books from Amazon.co.uk, for example. This indicates that Amazon is willing to use whatever power it may possess in book retailing in general to get what it wants in eBooks in competition with many new, but less well-known, entrants.
This happened in Australia, not in books, but in bread. Safeway in Victoria deleted entire lines of bread from a given manufacturer from its stores when smaller outlets were found to be discounting standard loaves. The Federal Court found that to be an anticompetitive act and Safeway faced substantial penalties. Amazon is surely heading down that path itself.
[Update: confirmation of all this from Macmillan].