[Update: Apparently Galleycat discussed this yesterday here.]
A letter that has gone out to authors from one of the smaller publishers:
I hope this e-mail finds you well. Recently we learned of a new policy being implemented by some of our major booksellers. In order for a book to be considered for purchase, a link to the bookseller must be featured on the author’s website. We have found that while the majority of our authors provide links to Amazon, they do not include other major retailers such as Barnes & Noble, Borders, etc. This is extremely important, as buyers have explicitly stated that they will not order books for their stores if the below links are not found on the author’s website. They are now going to each author’s website to check this before placing their order.
At the bottom of this e-mail please find URL codes to add to your site. I would also be greatly appreciative if you could send me an e-mail letting me know when you update your site. If someone else handles your site, please forward this email to them and make sure they understand its importance.
Although these are important changes for everyone to address as soon as possible, this is especially imperative for those of you with books coming out between January 2010 through April 2010, as those titles are currently being considered by the major booksellers and will [be] “skipped” if your website is not in compliance.
Please let me know if you have any questions or need clarification on any of the above information, and [name] and I both thank you in advance for your help with this issue.
The letter than lists links to Amazon, B&N, Borders, Books-a-Million, and Indiebound. But why stop there? Why shouldn’t you then have to list all of your local booksellers? Amazon, I believe, pays sites a tiny bit of money for sales that come via click-throughs, but do the other companies? Not that it doesn’t make sense to give people as many choices as possible, but … to have it decreed? And why is it that the chains feel they can dictate what authors have on their websites, anyway? Are they going to post links to the author’s sites on their pages? Highlight in any way the authors who are “in compliance”?
I have not heard of this sort of requirement from any other publisher, and I wonder if it is only the smaller companies that are being penalized this way by one of the big chains. What gives?