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Amazon announced yesterday that it has created a new promotional program that will offer booksellers the opportunity to make money by selling Kindle tablets.

According to the announcement, "Booksellers can receive 10% of the price of Kindle books purchased from the devices they sell. The first order is worry-free for retailers—Amazon will buy back the inventory for up to six months after the first order, no questions and no penalties." The commission deal will last for two years; after that, the bookstores won't receive any revenue from e-book sales.

"Great retailers—large or small—strive to offer customers what they want—and many customers want to read both digital and print books," Amazon tells Slate. "As a chunk of the reading population moves to digital, we’ve heard from booksellers that they were looking for a way to sell e-books from their store and make money while doing so. This enables them to earn 10 percent of the revenue."

The program is being called "Amazon Source."
KC's View:
The first thing I did when I saw this story was check the calendar. Because I was pretty sure that somehow it had gotten to be April 1, and I just wasn't paying attention.

I think the word for what Amazon is doing is cojones.

And the word that would best describe any independent retailer that would adopt this program? Delusional. (Or maybe moronic. Or stupid. Or any of a number of others that could easily be found in a decent thesaurus.)

Essentially, Amazon - a company that I admire and have done business with since 1997 -
is hoping to lure bookstores into what can only be a short-term arrangement that will funnel them a little bit of money over a couple of years, but would get readers even more used to the idea of e-books, which they would continue to buy without booksellers getting any of the action, while at the same time they lose out because hardcover and paperback book sales would decline.

I would refer you to the Borders scenario, in which Borders management didn't want to do e-commerce, and decided to farm out that functionality to … wait for it … Amazon. Which Amazon was happy to do. By the time Borders realized it had made a terrible mistake (which should have been before it signed the contract), it was too late, and we all were preparing the company's obituary.

I hope any retailer that decides to take Amazon on this offer has the good sense to ask to be taken out for dinner and a movie first. Because we all know how the relationship is going to end.