World and Nation

With a Barnes & Noble punch, clash of book titans revs up

In a sharp answer to Amazon and its expanding publishing efforts, Barnes & Noble said Tuesday that it would not sell books released by Amazon Publishing in its bookstores.

The ban includes books released by New Harvest, a new imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt that recently struck a deal to publish and distribute books released by Amazon Publishing’s unit based in New York.

“Barnes & Noble has made a decision not to stock Amazon published titles in our store showrooms,” Jaime Carey, the company’s chief merchandising officer, said in a statement.

“Our decision is based on Amazon’s continued push for exclusivity with publishers, agents, and the authors they represent. These exclusives have prohibited us from offering certain e-books to our customers. Their actions have undermined the industry as a whole and have prevented millions of customers from having access to content. It’s clear to us that Amazon has proven they would not be a good publishing partner to Barnes & Noble as they continue to pull content off the market for their own self interest.”

The decision is the latest in a series of skirmishes between the nation’s largest bookstore chain and Amazon, the online retailer that has moved aggressively into the publishing arena. And it signals clearly that Barnes & Noble has no intentions of helping its largest competitor sell books. A spokeswoman for Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The move could undermine Amazon’s efforts to sign authors who expect their books to be sold in Barnes & Noble’s 703 stores, crucial real estate for sales of many titles.

Barnes & Noble has chafed at deals that prevent it from selling the digital versions of books even as it is expected to market the books by displaying the print versions in stores. In August, the company said it would not sell print books published by Amazon unless it could also sell the e-book versions, in an objection to Amazon’s deals to publish authors’ work exclusively. In October, it removed from its stores all the physical copies of graphic novels from DC Comics because of a deal that allowed Amazon exclusive digital rights to them.

Amazon Publishing’s New York unit, headed by the longtime publishing executive Laurence Kirshbaum, has made a string of acquisitions since last summer, including a book by self-help author Timothy Ferriss and a memoir by actress and director Penny Marshall. Amazon, based in Seattle, has a number of imprints in a range of genres and published dozens of books last year.