Amazon Refuses to Sell to Libraries the E-Books Published Through Its Own Publishing House

Amazon’s book publishing house refuses to sell its tens of thousands of e-books and audiobooks to libraries, according to the Washington Post.

It’s a fascinating article given that both Amazon and the Post are owned by Jeff Bezos. Nevertheless, technology columnist Geoffrey A. Fowler accused the bookstore-killing e-commerce giant of “starving the reading institution that cares for kids, the needy and the curious.”

Fowler also writes that Amazon is the only major publisher to not sell its e-books and audiobooks to libraries. That means the only way people can access them is to give Amazon their money.

Mikyla Bruder of Amazon Publishing told the Post that “it’s not clear to us that current digital library lending models fairly balance the interests of authors and library patrons. We see this as an opportunity to invent a new approach to help expand readership and serve library patrons, while at the same time safeguarding author interests, including income and royalties.”

Steve Potash, the CEO of OverDrive, said he’s had “ongoing dialogue” with Amazon Publishing. OverDrive is the developer of the “Libby” app through which library members are able to download e-books and audiobooks.

“As part of our dialogue, we communicated our willingness to innovate in an effort to support their business strategy,” Potash said.

Fowler also laments Amazon’s stance on selling e-books and audiobooks as a depiction of “how tech monopolies hurt us not just as consumers, but as citizens.”

Browsing Amazon’s bestseller lists next to OverDrive’s most-borrowed lists, I see two completely different literary universes: the public and the private,” he concludes. “Amazon is building out its own library with an alternative set of books. And instead of a library card, Amazon accepts only a credit card.”