March 12, 2012

Amazon vs. indie publishers: IPG “not budging”


Curt Matthews, CEO of the Independent Publishers Group’s siege of the over 400 independent publishers distributed by the Independent Publishers Group hasn’t been in the news much lately because there haven’t been any new developments since the first few days after the giant retailer pulled the buy buttons on some 5,000 ebooks distributed by IPG. (See our earlier reports here and here and here.)

But news flash: Amazon’s boycott of IPG’s indie publishers is still going on. And the fact that IPG is still standing firm is a newsworthy accomplishment in itself.

But they are, and as a Chicago Tribune profile of IPG founder and CEO Curt Matthews made clear yesterday, the company seems to be holding on for more reasons than just money:

What rankles Matthews the most is the threat posed to keeping alive “slightly quirky voices.”

“It’s not so much about Amazon as it is about independent publishing,” said Matthews. “It is absolutely crucial to the health of our democracy, our personal lives, our culture.”

Meanwhile, admirers such as New York publishing consultant Lorraine Shanley say “Amazon could find itself in a tricky situation this year if it applies the same kind of pressure on other independent publishers as it has on companies such as IPG,” reports the Tribune. “If publishers push back and book readers can’t find their titles on Amazon’s virtual shelves, it could be a ‘difficult public relations issue,’ Shanley said.”

It may be inevitable in any event, according Matthews. “There’s not enough money to keep this chain alive, from author to publisher and retailer,” he says.

For now, at least, Matthews and IPG “aren’t budging,” reports the Trib. “This fight was going to happen,” Matthews says. “And our judgment was that it was better to have it happen sooner rather than later.”


Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.