Amazon on Saturday was refusing to allow orders for physical copies of forthcoming releases from yet another media company.
The supplier in the cross hairs this time was Disney. Amazon customers were unable to buy DVDs or Blu-rays of movies like “Muppets Most Wanted” that were coming out in the next few months. Instead, they could sign up to be notified when the movies became available or preorder the Amazon Instant Video.
In at least one case, there seemed to be no product page at all for the physical copy of the movie. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” was available for preorder as an Amazon Instant Video, but neither a Blu-ray disc nor a DVD was offered.
Preorders are a way for an entertainment company to gauge demand. Consumers have increasingly been trained to want something the moment it becomes available, so if they do not have the ability to order ahead, the companies worry, the customer will not buy a product when it hits the market.
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Eliminating the preorder button is thus a potent weapon for Amazon. It declined to take orders for Warner Home Video for several weeks in early summer. And it has been engaged in a battle with Hachette for months, causing some of the publisher’s authors to see their sales on the site drop by half.
Disney did not return calls for comment. An Amazon spokesman declined to comment, but in the past the company has emphasized that disputes with suppliers were routine for retailers.
They certainly have become that way at Amazon. One theory is that the company, always a tough negotiator, is losing so much money that it is trying to get an edge anywhere it can. Amazon says it could lose more than $800 million this quarter.
The conflict with Disney was first reported by HomeMediaMagazine.com.