Barnes & Noble, Amazon, your ISBNs, and who gets on the shelves

publishing.pngEarlier this week, I unexpectedly saw this headline:

Barnes and Noble will not sell Amazon published titles

The comments thread – both on the original article, and on the article author’s page on Facebook – are worth reading.  The practical upshot seems to be this:

If you’re published by Amazon’s publishing arm, don’t expect your physical books to show up in Barnes & Noble’s brick-and-mortar bookstores, or your eBooks to show up on their website.

Honestly, if you did, you might want to take a reality check.  Amazon and Barnes & Noble are direct competitors.  There’s no reason why B&N would ever give shelf space up to their direct competitor – and honestly, they shouldn’t.  If Amazon wants those books in Barnes & Noble, then they should spin off their publishing arm ASAP and quit with the monopoly-making.
Please note that this – unlike some of Amazon’s exclusivity moves in the last quarter – is specifically about books and eBooks published by Amazon, not those available at Amazon.  There’s a huge difference between those two.  For example, The Crimson Pact is available at Amazon and B&N.  It is published by Alliteration Ink.
While Alliteration Ink has used CreateSpace for print books, it’s been as a printer – and I can take the same source material to LightningSource or another printer – and get into different distribution channels that way.  The ISBNs reflect that Alliteration Ink – not anybody else – is the publisher of record.
It is exactly for this kind of shenanigan reason that I have always advised that you not let CreateSpace, Smashwords, Google, or anyone else own the ISBN for your book – which would make them the publisher of record.  It’s already hard enough to get your book on shelves.  Having your book banned because of market posturing isn’t something you need. 
But while B&N is facing real problems – just like every other bookstore – I am skeptical that Amazon’s self-made superstars are going to make or break the deal.  Those authors have been heavily promoted to Amazon customers.  More on this tomorrow.

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