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Amazon’s AbeBooks backs down after booksellers stage global protest

8 November 2018

From The Guardian:

An “extraordinary and unprecedented” global protest from antiquarian booksellers has forced the Amazon-owned secondhand marketplace AbeBooks to backtrack on its decision to pull out of several countries.

AbeBooks had told bookshops in countries including Hungary, the Czech Republic, South Korea and Russia that it would no longer support them from 30 November, citing migration to a new payment service provider as the reason for the withdrawal. The move prompted almost 600 booksellers in 27 countries to pull more than 3.5m titles from Abebooks’ site, putting them on “vacation” as they cited the motto of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers, “Amor librorum nos unit” (love of books unites us).

On Wednesday, president of ILAB Sally Burdon met AbeBooks chief executive Arkady Vitrouk to discuss the decision. It was agreed that booksellers in the four affected countries would be able to trade under current conditions until 31 December, with a solution to allow them to use the website indefinitely to follow.

In an email to ILAB’s 1,800 members, Burdon said that booksellers in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Russia and South Korea will “not be cut off this month nor in the future”. She said that Vitrouk had started by apologising for the behaviour of AbeBooks: “Arkady told us that Abe are very well aware of the mistake they have made. He stated that it was a ‘bad decision’ and that they deeply regret the hurt and harm they have caused. Arkady apologised a number of times … He is keen to continue to talk and we felt this was genuine. I should also add that the meeting took place at 4.30am for Arkady, such was the importance of it to Abe.”

. . . .

AbeBooks, which has headquarters in British Columbia, told the Guardian: “These sellers are an important part of our community and we are putting together a solution that will allow them to continue selling through AbeBooks. We are working directly with many of these sellers on the details and have appreciated their collaboration.”

Link to the rest at The Guardian

PG suggests that AbeBooks’ decision to pull out of several countries ranked very high on the Bonehead Scale.

The idea that a subsidiary of Amazon couldn’t figure out how to switch credit card processors without interrupting sales for several weeks or more is simply bizzare. The details are a bit murky, but PG wonders why an alternate credit card processor was not in place well before AbeBooks pulled the plug on the prior processor.

PG has not heard of any recent  communications outages between Seattle and Victoria. Even if the phones and the internet are down in the Northwestern United States, as PG recalls, it’s about a 90-minute drive between the two cities.

PG did a bit of quick and dirty research and it appears Amazon is operating very successfully in Russia (“Amazon is one of Russia’s favorite overseas retailers”).

Amazon opened a fulfillment center in the Czech Republic in 2015 and is aggressively beefing up its staff there – you can examine Amazon’s Czech recruiting portal here. You can see 59 current job openings in Seoul here. Further research reveals Amazon is trying to hire new employees in Budapest and is actively recruiting Hungarian Software Development engineers to move to the Edinburgh and London.

 

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8 Comments to “Amazon’s AbeBooks backs down after booksellers stage global protest”

  1. “PG wonders why an alternate credit card processor was not in place well before AbeBooks pulled the plug on the prior processor.”

    I wonder if something caused the processor to suddenly have a problem, leaving Amazon with nothing to work with (and not wanting to deal with problems when the processor folds at the end of the year. Or something else is going on backstage, we’re missing some data somewhere.

  2. Amazon’s having a lot of computer problems lately. The stupid decision to close CreateSpace created a lot of problems, some of which have yet to be resolved.

  3. I just have to say that the “International League of Antiquarian Booksellers” is a great cover name for a secret society of cosmopolitan crime fighters. And that brings to mind Antiquarian Bookshop Biblia’s Case Files by En Mikami, one of the coziest of all cozy mysteries series.

    Shioriko Shinokawa is the preternaturally perspicacious proprietress of Biblia Antiquarian Bookshop. When not dealing in used and rare books, she and her Watson, Daisuke Goura, solve crimes of a literary nature. The live-action series (subtitled) is available on Crunchyroll.

    https://www.crunchyroll.com/antiquarian-bookshop-biblias-case-files

    Each episode takes its theme from a work in the Japanese or Western canon. For example, a case that turns on changes made to the ending of A Clockwork Orange in the American edition and not corrected until 1986. If nothing else, you’ll learn a lot about publishing.

  4. “PG did a bit of quick and dirty research and it appears Amazon is operating very successfully in Russia (“Amazon is one of Russia’s favorite overseas retailers”).

    Amazon opened a fulfillment center in the Czech Republic in 2015 and is aggressively beefing up its staff there – you can examine Amazon’s Czech recruiting portal here. You can see 59 current job openings in Seoul here. Further research reveals Amazon is trying to hire new employees in Budapest and is actively recruiting Hungarian Software Development engineers to move to the Edinburgh and London.”

    Sadly none of these countries or their languages are supported by the Kindle store or device.

    In a few days we will begin the fifth year since Amazon last launched a Kindle store, suggesting the goal

    “to have every book, ever published, in any language available for Kindle customers to purchase and begin reading in less than 60 seconds,”

    while still on the Amazon website, has long since been forgotten.

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