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With Amazon spat resolved, ECW titles restored on Kindle

Independent Publishers Group and Amazon have ended a three-month standoff during which the online retailer had refused to sell some 5,000 ebook titles from IPG clients. (Industry newsletter Publishers Lunch broke the news late on Friday, heading into a holiday weekend in the U.S.)

The spat began in February Amazon and IPG failed to renew their contract for digital sales, prompting Amazon to block the Kindle editions of dozens of mostly small, independent publishers. IPG has not commented on what broke the stalemate, though president Mark Suchomel has said his firm will waive its distribution fee for Kindle titles from June until the end of August.

The biggest Canadian company affected by the blackout was Toronto’s ECW Press, which sells about 500 titles on the Kindle platform. Co-publisher David Caron estimates that the dispute with Amazon cost the firm $60,000 in lost sales.

ECW did not observe a spike in ebook sales in other channels, which suggests that Kindle owners did not seek out its titles from other online vendors such as Kobo or Barnes & Noble. “A lot of people were not aware of how you side-load a book on the Kindle,” Caron says. “It shows the success of Amazon’s marketing that people don’t know they can get the book from elsewhere.”

Caron could not comment on the specifics of IPG’s renegotiated contract with Amazon, but it seems clear that both sides made concessions. “[In contract negotiations], you know you’re successful if neither party is happy in the end,” he says. “In this case, it’s kind of true.”