Amazon has dropped the buy button on a number of titles on its UK site as it continues to face supply shortages in the book chain.
Agents and authors noted that books were no longer available to buy direct from the retailer, though were still being offered via third party suppliers. Bestsellers unavailable yesterday (16th April) included David Walliams' new book Slime (HarperCollins Children's) and the recently released paperback of Blue Moon by Lee Child (Bantam), although there were hardback editions of the latter for sale.
Those who raised concerns online included Curtis Brown chairman Jonny Geller, who tweeted: "Congratulations to authors with books published today. As Amazon is taking buy buttons off some books, bookshops can't deliver on time, is this not the time for the big publishers to deliver books to those who NEED them? The industry cannot survive without delivery of books."
It comes after buy pre-order buttons were removed from Amazon for two days last month as the retailer prioritised essential items during the health crisis—a shock to some publishers.
An Amazon UK spokesperson said about the latest issues: “Books are very important to us and our customers, are we are working hard to offer books to customers in all formats. At the present time, we believe that the prioritisation of certain products is in our customers’ best interests. When print options are temporarily limited, customers will always have the option to purchase ebooks and download audiobooks where available.”
The organisation's founder, Jeff Bezos, directly addressed the Covid-19 crisis this week in his annual letter to shareholders, promising, among other things, to develop a coronavirus testing facility for every Amazon worker to be checked.
He wrote: "Amazonians are working around the clock to get necessary supplies delivered directly to the doorsteps of people who need them. The demand we are seeing for essential products has been and remains high. But unlike a predictable holiday surge, this spike occurred with little warning, creating major challenges for our suppliers and delivery network. We quickly prioritized the stocking and delivery of essential household staples, medical supplies, and other critical products."
Bezos, whose company had net sales of $280bn last year, said he was considering regular testing of all staff globally, including those showing no symptoms.
He went on: "we’ve begun the work of building incremental testing capacity. A team of Amazonians—from research scientists and programme managers to procurement specialists and software engineers—moved from their normal day jobs onto a dedicated team to work on this initiative. We have begun assembling the equipment we need to build our first lab and hope to start testing small numbers of our frontline employees soon. We are not sure how far we will get in the relevant timeframe, but we think it’s worth trying, and we stand ready to share anything we learn."
Thanks to demand during the health crisis, the online giant's stock soared 5.3% on Tuesday, lifting Bezos' net worth to $138.5bn, according to Bloomberg.
However, the firm faced a setback in France after a court ruling stopped the delivery of non-essential items during the pandemic, forcing it to close six warehouses.