BOOKS

Amazon, Macmillan Buy Buttons, Gavin De Becker's eBooks, And More Free eBooks

The latest developments on the Amazon front include Macmillan, free eBooks and an exclusive deal with a bestselling author.

Last week, we were on the edge of our seats as Amazon removed the "buy" buttons for Macmillan books, including New York Times bestseller Atul Gawande's "Checklist Manifesto", because Macmillan president John Sargent changed the terms under which Amazon can sell its eBooks -- $9.99, Amazon's preferred top price, wasn't an option anymore. Amazon said it would capitulate, but it took another week for the "buy" buttons to be back in place.

Macmillan wasn't the first victim of the "buy" button removal. It all started in England, according to the Authors' Guild:

"It's ugly with Amazon and will probably get uglier." So we said to the New York Times in June 2008 in the months after we first learned of Amazon's tactic of removing buy buttons to gain control over U.K. publishers that Amazon found unruly. Amazon's market share in the U.K. had just reached 16% and was growing fast. With its new clout, Amazon wasted no time in testing its strength against those publishers.

In 2010, we have Amazon seeking to use its clout in the physical book market to dictate terms in the nascent e-book market. In the process, it's removed nearly all buy buttons from Macmillan, one of the largest trade publishers in the U.S. That campaign spurred us to launch this website.

Amazon struck two new deals that were announced today, one in England and another in the US. The first is a joint venture with the British Library making works that are now in the public domain available for free on the Kindle, reports the Times of London:

Making 19th century fiction available for free through the Kindle ebook reader opens up a new global readership for forgotten literary gems. Kindle users will be able to download, free of charge, 25m pages of digitised books, from noteworthy editions of well known authors like Dickens, Conan Doyle and Thomas Hardy to rare early 19th century fiction and even the UK's best collection of 'penny dreadfuls'. People who want their own copies can also have them despatched direct through Amazon's print-on-demand service.Super Saver Delivery meets the gothic novel.

And NYT bestselling author Gavin de Becker made an exclusive deal directly with Amazon for the sale of updated electronic versions of his bestsellers "The Gift of Fear", and "Just 2 Seconds". Marketwatch reports:

This is the first time "The Gift of Fear" has been available electronically, and both books will be exclusive to the Kindle Store for one year...."Over the years, there have been about 25 different editions of 'The Gift of Fear,' and I am very excited that Kindle can free my books from the bonds of paper and glue and warehousing and shipping," said de Becker. "These special Kindle editions of my books can efficiently and instantly be available to readers around the world, and offer many benefits unavailable in conventional paper books. For example, while readers of the physical edition may or may not have had access to a nearby dictionary, Kindle readers can now see the definition of a word at the moment it's encountered. Now readers can also easily search for any reference, name, passage, topic or even individual word throughout the entire text."

Stay tuned for the next moves from iPad. We're sure they're coming.