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Amazon.com (Gorilla) and the Future of Book Publishing (part 1)

February 1, 2012

Tags: Amazon, POD publishing

Here are links to several pieces of essential reading on Amazon and the future of book publishing: Amazon's Hit Man (Brad Stone, Bloomberg Businessweek, 1-25-12)
Publishing’s Ecosystem on the Brink: The Backstory (Authors Guild, 1-31-12)
Amazon and Lightning Source: The End of an Era? (Joel Friedlander, The Book Designer 9-9-11)

An Excerpt From “Killing the Competition: How the New Monopolies Are Destroying Open Markets” (Barry C. Lynn, Harper's Magazine 1-25-12 -- key excerpts at link, full article only by subscription).
"Today, … a single private company has captured the ability to dictate terms to the people who publish our books, and hence to the people who write and read our books. It does so by employing the most blatant forms of predatory pricing to destroy its retail competitors. … [It] justifies its exercise of raw power in the same way our economic autocrats always do: it claims that the resulting 'efficiencies' will serve the interests of the consumer."

The Advantages of Print-on-Demand Book Printing (Dana Lynn Smith, The Savvy Book Marketer, 3-29-10, on the pros and cons both of POD printing and of Lightning Source vs. CreateSpace)

Becoming an Empowered SELF-Published Author – Ethics & Practice by Lynn Serafinn. A clear explanation of self-publishing leads to an ethical issue: "Amazon is trying to wear 3 different ‘hats’ here: the publisher (Step 2), the distributor (Step 4) and the retailer (Step 5) in the sales chain. Each of these ’steps’ has ethical obligation to be equitable to their customers, whoever they may be. And the break in this system is the conflict of interest they have between Step 2 and Step 4, which gives them an unfair advantage at Step 5. First of all, I have no idea how Amazon managed to gain the status of a distributor in the first place when they are not distributing to anyone; they are retailing directly to the public. But that aside, if Amazon are playing the role of a distributor to other publishers, it seems incredible that they would treat these publishers—who are their customers—any differently from their OWN publishing company. The two hats have to remain separate; otherwise, what we are verging on is a violation of anti-monopoly trade laws. In fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we hear about a litigation in the near future."

Read Part 2