Charlie Stross: Amazon: malignant monopoly, or just plain evil?: “Last week, Amazon.com began removing…
…the pre-order links from titles by the publishing group Hachette. This is a cruel and unpleasant action, from an author’s point of view; if you’re a new author with a title about to come out, it utterly fucks your first-week sales and probably dooms your career from the outset. And if you’re someone like me, with a title about to come out, it frustrates and irritates your readers and also damages your sales profile and screws your print run…. Forbes mostly calls it right, at least at the corporate level, and until the end of this paragraph, where their ‘free-market’ knee-jerk kicks in and they bottle it:
What we’re really seeing is a battle between the people who make the product and the people who distribute it as to who should be getting the economic surplus that the consumer is willing to hand over. Like all such fights it’s both brutal and petty. Amazon is apparently delaying shipment of Hachette produced books, insisting that some upcoming ones won’t be available and so on. Hachette is complaining very loudly about what Amazon is doing, entirely naturally. The bigger question is what should we do, if anything, about it? To which the answer is almost certainly let them fight it out and see who wins.
Planet earth calling: Hachette is the publishing arm of… Lagardère… annual turnover of €7.37Bn…. Hachette turned over €2.1Bn in 2012…. Amazon’s sales… €45-50Bn)…. It’s a big-ish corporation being picked on by a Goliath more than ten times its size, in an attempt to extort better terms…. Forbes seem to think that Hachette is a producer and Amazon is a distributor. This isn’t quite true. I am a producer…. Amazon’s strategy (as I noted in 2012) is to squat on the distribution channel… eventually… leaving just Amazon as a monopoly distribution channel retailing the output of an atomized cloud of highly vulnerable self-employed piece-workers like myself….