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View Diary: Amazon vs. Hachette: I Stand with Amazon (63 comments)

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  •  so, you're comfortable with a monopoly (9+ / 0-)

    controlling the publishing industry?
    Seems like this is the opening shot of where we're headed.  

    •  far from a monopoly (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FloridaSNMOM, high uintas

      iTunes, Google, B&N, Kobo, and lots of other big players sell ebooks

      "the remedy to be applied is more speech" -- Louis Brandeis

      by PaulLev on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 12:51:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  but amazon control kindle n/t (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        falconer520, NYFM

        "The only person sure of himself is the man who wishes to leave things as they are, and he dreams of an impossibility" -George M. Wrong.

        by statsone on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 12:56:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But the Kindle is compatible with many file types (4+ / 0-)

          It depends a bit on the exact model, of course, but my old Kindle Keyboard can handle AZW (of course, that's Amazon's format), CBZ (comic book archive), DOC, HTML, MOBI (without DRM), PDF, TR3, and TXT. The lack of EPUB is well known and there are easy conversion programs to get EPUB into something the Kindle can handle.

          I am not required to shop at Amazon for ebooks. I can get them from individual publisher websites (Baen, for example.) I can get files for free from Gutenberg or through my library. I can buy them from other retailers as long as I can get a copy in one of those formats listed above.

      •  Amzn selling books at a loss is not a... (7+ / 0-)

        favor to the consumer, it is a strategic move to push the publishing houses out of business. So Amzn can increase it's sphere of influence and market share.

        You people that dance in joy over the low price today are incredibly short sighted. Amzn is destroying the literary culture of this country.

        A mind like a book, has to be open to function properly.

        by falconer520 on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 01:19:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I wouldn't go that far (4+ / 0-)

          Amazon is the Wal-Mart of online sales. They come in with their big brawny "store", outsell everyone because they do such high volume and are willing to sell at a loss in order to gain a market, and drive out the local stores. All this while paying their warehouse workers chump change and not paying any taxes on the sales, hurting local governments.

          To say they're destroying literary culture though is a bit much. The same Internet that Amazon uses to take over so many sales markets is the one that has literary clubs, allows for close author interactions with fans, and has put some life back into serial publication.

          Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. - William Pitt

          by Phoenix Rising on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 01:44:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  well said (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            FloridaSNMOM, high uintas

            "the remedy to be applied is more speech" -- Louis Brandeis

            by PaulLev on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 02:03:08 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Wth? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Arilca Mockingbird
            To say they're destroying literary culture though is a bit much. The same Internet that Amazon uses to take over so many sales markets is the one that has literary clubs, allows for close author interactions with fans, and has put some life back into serial publication.
            Are you equating Amzn with the Internet? They really are separate... The advantages you list have nothing to do with Amzn... In-fact they predate the Web, are you old enough to remember newsgroups :)

            I wholeheartedly agree the internet has been a boon for literary culture.

            Amzn has turned the book into a commodity; something no longer valued for its content, but the price it sells for.

            A mind like a book, has to be open to function properly.

            by falconer520 on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 02:25:00 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Then let's say that... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            codairem, Phoenix Rising, orestes1963

            ...like the big box stores before that Amazon is doing its best to destroy independent bookstores.

            Will Amazon's heavy-handed treatment of publishers and domination of the market increase the income and treatment of authors?

            What about when Amazon demands the same deal from small independent publishers?  Publishers who work on a much smaller margin of profit (left leaning publishers like say, Nation Books, Haymarket Books, AK Press, etc.).

            What about if Amazon decides that they want more of a say over the editorial direction of publishers?

            Will it be a good thing for the readers when there's only one publisher (hello Random House/Penguin) and one online store essentially controlling the market?

            I don't stand with Amazon on this.

            Full disclosure:  I work in publishing, specifically with small independent publishers.  

            Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

            by Arilca Mockingbird on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 06:45:12 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  It's still the Internet (0+ / 0-)

              If Amazon screws writers and publishers too badly, the Internet is much more friendly for a disruptive replacement.

              I'm a dead tree kind of reader - I like the feel of a book in hand - but I've decided that I could have my book collection on my Nook and be happy with it, provided I have a guaranteed way to keep my book collection under my own control in a way that's future-proof (like a non-DRM'd ePub). I figure that if I can be a convert, then all but the most die-hard bindery loving addict could make the switch.

              And that means that anyone - including, say, an association of independent publishers - could open an e-book store with features like artist interviews, reader reviews, serial publication, and cross-platform content, and tell Amazon to go take a hike if it came down to it.

              So no, I don't see Amazon as an insurmountable threat. Just a large unruly beast in the room that is causing some trouble.

              Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. - William Pitt

              by Phoenix Rising on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 09:28:18 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  There's the rub (0+ / 0-)

                There are no guarantees that you will have permanent access to ebooks once you purchase them.  The technology changes often enough that once your ereader 1.0 becomes obsolete, it is quite possible your access to your books will go the same route.  If the movie/DVD market is any guide, the industry will include a planned obsolescence.  Remember we went from Beta to VHS to DVD to blue ray to 3D.  Some of my old DVDs do not screen as vibrantly in the newer DVD players.  I don't think that is an accident.  

                Furthermore, a start-up online book publisher/seller would have to develop or license the technology to generate ebooks.  This can be costly (it certainly has been for B&N).  If one relies upon licensing, one has to hope the developer of the technology is willing to actually license it to you.  The big players, like amazon, make a habit of buying up small companies to obtain control of their IP and have no incentive to license to competitors.  (Microsoft engaged in similar conduct with regard to ISPs on its operating system until the EC competition authorities demanded it open its platform to others.)  Amazon has a long history of buying up as many well-designed online booksellers as it can in order to either utilize the superior technology or take it off the market.  There is a possibility that an open source alternative may arise (or has been developed; I'm a couple of years behind regarding this technology), but without that, the hurdle is fairly high.  

      •  You are being disingenuous ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Arilca Mockingbird

        to equate the market shares of iTunes, Google, B&N and Kobo to that of Amzn...

        A mind like a book, has to be open to function properly.

        by falconer520 on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 02:46:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  did I say all are equal? (0+ / 0-)

          but surely you don't think iTunes and Google are minor players

          "the remedy to be applied is more speech" -- Louis Brandeis

          by PaulLev on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 02:59:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  ... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            orestes1963, Arilca Mockingbird
            but surely you don't think iTunes and Google are minor players
            In the e-book marketplace, I do. I doubt iTunes and Google combined have the same market share as Amzn.

            But my opinion is irrelevant, being an engineer I prefer data. Since we started this exchange I have been looking for market share stats, with no luck.

            If you have numbers to share, I'm willing to be educated.

            A mind like a book, has to be open to function properly.

            by falconer520 on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 03:14:18 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  the numbers are easy enough to find (0+ / 0-)

              Apple (iTunes) said it had 20% of the US ebook market in 2013; Amazon in the same article was reported to have 50-60%.  

              Amazon obviously dominates the market - but Apple is clearly not a minor player.

              "the remedy to be applied is more speech" -- Louis Brandeis

              by PaulLev on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 03:29:07 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  So... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Arilca Mockingbird

                I'm not sure this article is the best source, but if we use it:

                Amzn        50-60% (That is a hell of a range...)
                B&N          25%
                iBookstore 20%
                Google      1-2%
                Kobo         1-2%

                So using your source data; Amzn still has more market share than all the other suppliers combined...

                A mind like a book, has to be open to function properly.

                by falconer520 on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 03:41:31 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  right (0+ / 0-)

                  and clearly not a monoply

                  "the remedy to be applied is more speech" -- Louis Brandeis

                  by PaulLev on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 04:25:26 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  But willing to use their muscle to improve their (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Arilca Mockingbird

                    numbers.

                    Call them an imminent monopoly.

                  •  How much market share will Amazon need... (0+ / 0-)

                    ...before you'd be willing to call them a monopoly?

                    Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

                    by Arilca Mockingbird on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 06:47:43 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  words have meaning (0+ / 0-)

                      Monopoly means sole player (mono = one), so I would say anything less than 100% would, strictly speaking, not be a monopoly.

                      In any case, with a player like Apple having 20+ % of the market, Amazon is not even vaguely approaching monopoly status.

                      Incidentally, there was a time when everyone was concerned that Microsoft was in danger of having a monopoly on computer operating systems.  That was just before the resurgence of Apple.

                      "the remedy to be applied is more speech" -- Louis Brandeis

                      by PaulLev on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 07:44:45 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  That's a semantic point (0+ / 0-)

                        A dominant player (the term typically used in antitrust law), like Amazon, can exercise monopolistic power without being an actual monopoly.  Your claim that apple's 20% share deprives amazon of monopolistic power is simply naive.  By your reasoning, the antitrust authorities that went after Microsoft were foolish because "well, there's apple!"  The leading antitrust authorities in the world (most notably, the EU) rightly rejected that notion and imposed undertakings on microsoft to limit its market dominance.    

                        It's not enough to point out that there are other players in the market if those players are incapable of acting as a constraint on the dominant player's market power.  Walmart is the easy example of this phenomenon.  Walmart, dues to its scale, is able to extract significant concessions from its suppliers.  those concessions permit Walmart to keep prices lower than its competitors, which in turn increases its market share, which increases its buyer power, etc.

                      •  Re Microsoft (0+ / 0-)

                        It was not constrained by the resurgence of apple.  There were a number of antitrust actions that compelled microsoft to change its practices because it was exercising monopoly power.  

                        Here's a precis of Microsoft's problems with the EC competition bureau:  http://en.wikipedia.org/...

                        •  your citation (0+ / 0-)

                          is to what happened in Europe.   Here in the US, it was precisely the rise of Apple that eclipsed Microsoft (the attempts to pass anti-trust restrictions on Microsoft had little effect).

                          "the remedy to be applied is more speech" -- Louis Brandeis

                          by PaulLev on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 04:24:29 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  What do you have to support your claim re Apple? (0+ / 0-)

                            I cited the EC matter because it was more recent and went on for years, with sanctions and appeals.  The EC's decision affected MS systems in the US as well.

                            But, more to the point, there was an US antitrust action as well.  See here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/....  I have worked in international antitrust law for the past 15 years and do not understand your claim.  I'd appreciate hearing your reasoning on this.  Thanks.

              •  And no Paul the numbers are not easy to find... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                codairem

                Since none of these players publish their sales numbers. It's all hints, leaks, rumors, and PR propaganda...

                But I'm beginning to think facts are not a concern for you...

                A mind like a book, has to be open to function properly.

                by falconer520 on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 04:04:08 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  What about tangible books? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Arilca Mockingbird, askyron

        The book market continues to shrink thanks to the likes of B&N (a company I loved when it was small and a discounter) and Amazon.  Local book stores have almost disappeared.  Used book stores are often not profitable given rents in many cities.  Do these issues factor into your analysis?

    •  Future monopoly vs. current real oligopoly. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Susan from 29

      The few big players in the publishing industry have colluded on prices, author payments, etc. for decades now, to the detriment of both readers and authors.

      I'll take the threat of a potential future monopoly over the present-day reality of an oligopoly any day.

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

      by JamesGG on Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 04:24:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The proper response (0+ / 0-)

        would be a cartel investigation, followed by a legal action.  It's not an either/or scenario.  One doesn't have to choose between a monopoly and a cartel.  

        •  It has already been done. The DOJ brought an (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          orestes1963

          antitrust action against Apple and the big five in 2012 for restraint of trade. The publishers settled and Apple lost in court last summer. The settlement agreements that the publishers signed and that allowed retailers to discount up to 30% are expiring this year. Hatchette is the first to have a contract up for negotiation with Amazon, who was the victim of the conspiracy.

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