Amy Martinez, Seattle (WA) Times
Karl-Heinz Roseman says Amazon has sent emails demanding a steep price break from McFarland & Co. Months later, he still has not been able to talk to a live Amazon employee. Tommy Penic, Seattle Times
The bad news came to McFarland & Co. in an email from Amazon.com. The world's largest Internet retailer wanted better wholesale terms for the small publisher's books. Starting Jan. 1, 2012 — then only 19 days away — Amazon would buy the publisher's books at 45 percent off the cover price, roughly double its current price break.
For McFarland, an independent publisher of scholarly books situated in the mountains of North Carolina, Amazon's email presented a money-losing proposition.
"It was the apocalypse," said Karl-Heinz Roseman, director of sales and marketing at McFarland, which has a long track record of giving all its retail partners the same discount.