Breaking News: Amazon has inexplicably disabled the ability to purchase thousands of HarperCollins e-books on their Amazon.ca website. This includes bestsellers such as The Illegal by Lawrence Hill, The Bone Labyrinth by James Rollins and Moonlight Over Paris by Jennifer Robson. When you try and buy any of these titles there is a new message that pops up that says “Kindle titles are available for US customers on Amazon.com.”
Not only are all HarperCollins e-books not available to purchase, but Amazon has also removed the text that lets you know that the Kindle price was established by the publisher. Oddly enough, the paperback and hardcover books are still available and there is no shipping delays.
When only a handful of e-books are not available, you can normally allocate the entire situation to a bug in the Amazon system, but when every single bestseller cannot be purchased, there is something else going on.
Last year HarperCollins and Amazon waged a quiet battle over new contract terms on the main Amazon.com website. The publisher wanted control over e-book pricing and did not want the Seattle company to be able to give wholesale discounts anymore. When the contract was renewed, the average cost of a new Kindle book increased from $9.99 to $12.99 and sometimes even higher.
It looks like Amazon and HarperCollins are in the middle of contract dispute for the Amazon.ca website and standard Amazon procedure is to simply remove the ability for customers to purchase the Kindle books. This creates leverage and basically tells the publisher the longer you delay on signing on the dotted line, the less revenue you will garner.
I have reached out to my contacts at Amazon to get an official quote and to find out exactly what is going on and will update this post when I have more to report.
Update: Here is the situation, it looks like when you are not logged into Amazon.ca it says the e-book is available. Once you login with your account details it says the e-books are only available to US customers. It looks like this is NOT a bug as I thought, but it looks like Amazon HAS pulled all HarperCollins titles.
Update 2 – This is not just a Canadian issue, but users in Germany and Indie are also reporting HarperCollins e-books are not available.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.