The American Society of Journalists and Authors sent me a press release/position statement which made my jaw drop in disbelief (and check to see whether I'd received it five days late):
"The American Society of Journalists and Authors, the nation's trade association for freelance nonfiction writers, is disgusted with Amazon's announced move requiring that all print-on-demand (POD) books sold on Amazon's site be printed by their own print-on-demand house, BookSurge.
"As of April 1, Amazon is requiring small publishers to sign a contract agreeing to such demands."
—Read the whole thing on ASJA's website
I engaged my Google-fu and immediately discovered Angela Hoy's report of these Amazon/BookSurge doings at Writers Weekly, which has been corroborated by sources including Publisher's Weekly and The Wall Street Journal:
"Reports had been trickling in from the POD underground that Amazon/BookSurge representatives have been approaching some Lightning Source customers, first by email introduction and then by phone (nobody at BookSurge seems to want to put anything in writing). When Lightning Source customers speak with the BookSurge representative, the reports say, they are basically told they can either have BookSurge start printing their books or the "buy" button on their Amazon.com book pages will be 'turned off.'
Writers Weekly has also assembled a compilation of the current and burgeoning uproar of the issue that's flying through writers websites, forums, and the blogosphere.
After I retrieved my jaw from where it had fallen off and bounced under my desk, I find myself trying to figure out whether this is a desperate bid on Amazon's part to shore itself up in a time of economic decline or if their hubris is such that they believe they can pull this off without suffering a backlash. This will and is already raining down a huge negative PR storm on Amazon, as well it should. It's monopoly tactics, and it totally screws independent and small press publishers and authors.
I hope that this is just a very stupid decision on the part of some clueless marketing executive and will be tromped down by clearer heads.