GalleyCat has a great summary of the brouhaha over publishing house Chelsea Green's decision to offer Amazon.com print-on-demand coupons for its new book Obama's Challenge at the Democratic National Convention, making the book available exclusively on Amazon for a full three weeks before it hits the streets. (Full Disclosure: Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, is a donor to Reason Foundation, the nonprofit organization that publishes this website.) As Chelsea Green president Margo Baldwin put it, "This election is too important to wait around for traditional publishing lead times." Strong words, though as Publishers Weekly reports, America's long-suffering independent booksellers see things differently. PW quotes one Hut Landon, the executive director of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association, who chastises Chelsea Green for its "decision to exclude independent booksellers" and derides Amazon for its "purposeful decisions to avoid sales tax collection in most states" and for "sell[ing] books at a loss when it suits their purposes." Those blackguards!
But it isn't just the mom & pop shops that are upset with this nefarious scheme. The once powerful Barnes & Noble is feeling left out, too. As company spokeswoman Mary Ellen Keating told the Associated Press, "Our initial order was based on the book being available to all booksellers simultaneously—an even playing field." In retaliation, Barnes & Noble has refused to stock the book in stores. Times certainly have changed. Remember the salad days of 1998, when Meg Ryan's charming little bookstore was menaced by the Barnes & Noble stand-in run by Tom Hanks? How far the mighty have fallen.
In possibly related news, Billboard is quoting an unnamed source that says Guns & Roses' long-awaited epic, Chinese Democracy, may be released exclusively through either Wal-Mart or Best Buy. I don't know if that counts as a minus or as a plus for America's independent record shops, but there you go.