Saturday, January 30, 2010

Amazon, Apple, McMillan


Amazon is one of my favorite companies. I buy my music from them instead of Apple because they know that DRM is ridiculous. They understand their market. That's why they're such a behemoth.

Apple is trying to edge into eBooks. I've already voiced other reasons why I think they're going to tank at it. To say nothing of Apple blatantly stealing the bookstore technology from Wil Shipley.

Now there's a new twist happening. A pricing war. I couldn't be happier.

Allegedly (don't hear that often enough, do you?) Apple is trying to woo publishers by telling them "we're not as restrictive as Amazon! Amazon wants you to charge 9.99 for eBooks, but we'll let you charge higher if you like! Go ahead and support that bloated middle management infrastructure you're tugging behind you thanks to the deteriorating print model, we'll help!"

So of course the publishing house, resistant to change, smell money. Macmillan wants to up the ante to 15 dollars. So they spun round to Amazon and said "Apple will let us sell for 15 bucks a pop for digital media. So will you."

Like I said, Amazon knows their market. We can't resell ebooks. There's a lot of reduced value for us with the missing tactile value of that embossed cover, paper smell, or that spine on the shelf. We don't want to pay anywhere near the cost of a hardcover, and we're not happy as it is paying more than the 7.99 average on a mass market paperback. So how did Amazon respond?

Remember what happened when some states insisted on state taxes to be invoked against internet purchases? Amazon simply stopped dealing with dealers out of those states. See it coming?

Authors started noticing that ebook links from Macmillan published books had vanished. Entirely. No explanation, no apology.

I love this about Amazon. They will not be bullied, they will not submit to pressure. They acknowledge the power they have and they're willing to use it. In a world filled of fearful PC passive aggressiveness, I find it refreshing.

Here's what I keep wondering; if this escalates, what's to stop Amazon from cutting Macmillan's print links as well? "Ah," says the skeptic, "but that's a lot of authors left out in the cold, Amazon couldn't afford to eliminate such a large section of their stock." I think you fail to understand the implications. The more likely scenario is that those authors would leap from Macmillan and renegotiate contracts with other publishing houses, who would be waiting with open arms and firmer commitments with Amazon.

Amazon is synonymous with books, folks. It's the reason why brick and mortars are looking more like sticks and straws, and no aged black sweater hipster with a third trimester LCD and stolen software playing fast and lose with a pricing model is going to unseat that.

No comments:

Post a Comment