The Authors Guild has brokered a one-time truce in Barnes & Noble's battle with Amazon that resulted in the bookstore chain's policy to not carry print books in its stores without the ability to sell e-book editions. In a letter sent to its members, the guild said that Barnes & Noble has agreed to its request to bring Marshall Cavendish children's books back to their stores' shelves. Amazon Publishing purchased Marshall Cavendish's children's book list in December 2011, and one month later, B&N announced that it would not stock any Amazon published titles in its stores.
B&N agreed with the guild's argument that authors who had signed with Cavendish should not be penalized by Amazon's purchase of the titles. But B&N has made it clear, the letter states, that it is making an exception for the Marshall Cavendish titles. "Its executives made clear to us that it is making this exception because it announced the policy after Amazon announced its purchase of the Marshall Cavendish titles. For any new Amazon acquisitions, Barnes & Noble's policy is to ban the books from their shelves." A B&N spokesperson reiterated to PW that it has not changed its policy of stocking print titles in its stores only if it can sell the e-book as well.
The letter agrued: "We're sympathetic to the position of brick-and-mortar booksellers, even the largest of them: this isn't a fair fight, by any stretch. Still, it's essential that authors and readers not become collateral damage. The authors and illustrators who signed contracts with Marshall Cavendish had no way of anticipating that the publisher would assign their contracts to Amazon. For these authors to lose their vital showroom presence in Barnes & Noble stores was clearly unfair and harmful. Children's books, especially picture books, need to be seen to be appreciated by readers."
The Authors Guild first contacted B&N executives in early March. The titles are expected to be back on shelves in two or three weeks.
According to the letter, more than 250 authors and 150 illustrators have been affected by Marshall Cavendish's titles being removed from B&N's shelves, including 2011 National Book Award finalist Debby Dahl Edwardson, whose book My Name Is Not Easy was pulled from shelves just two months after the ceremony.
The full text can be read at the Authors Guild Website.