Amazon Gains Footing

Amazon, with it’s Kindle Direct Publishing system already holds about two thirds of the digital ebook sales business, but recent events now gives them a much stronger footing that could eventually leave them in complete control.
The US Department of Justice announced plans to go after Apple and some other book publishers, charging them with conspiring to push up the price of ebooks to limit retail competition. Amazon, on the other hand plans to lower ebook prices down to $9.99 US or lower.

This dual move between the DOJ and Amazon will definitely have an impact on traditional book publishers, taking away much of the bargaining power they had established through agreements with Apple.

The American Bookseller Association claims this will hurt the competitive book market, alleging Amazon is trying to become the “Wal-Mart of the web” which will lead to Amazon having a monopoly. Their claim goes on to suggest Amazon is prepared to take losses in cheaper ebook sales in exchange for selling more flat screen TVs and furniture.

The DOJ doesn’t see it that way, stating ebook sales only make up around 10 to 20 percent of all book sales, so there’s little chance this suit would create a monopoly or cripple the traditional book publishers.

However, the DOJ admits concern that it could make it more difficult for publishers to regain their costs, but that it’s too soon to tell.

No matter how this all turns out, the power structure will change, because in the past, book publishers held market power by owning the rights to books and the means they were produced. Now the power shifts to companies like Amazon who own the content delivery systems.

This in itself will cause problems for the traditional book publishers, especially if and when the percentage of books sold digitally increases.

On the other hand, all this bickering is good new for those who wish to self publish. As Amazon increases their foothold in the ebook trade, this will force traditional book publishers to compete without having the luxury of making special arrangements.

What this mean for consumers is anyone’s guess at this point. But as it appears now, it will inevitably be up to Amazon.


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2 Responses to Amazon Gains Footing

  1. Jeff Haste says:

    I liked your facebook page but didn’t understand what you were about. I see books on writing.
    This discussion will no doubt go on for a long time. I see a somewhat over simplified view of things in your comment n power structure where amazon will call the shots. I don’t see why amazon is not guilty of the same allegations as the other publishers, and as a small publisher see a danger in thinking publishers alone have a power to the means of producing books. What about all the printers and binders, jobs!; manufacturing jobs? If amazon becomes the only place a book gets published and prices are set . . . what about the electronics industry dictating where our intellectual culture will go? certainly we have all these devices around now, and personal computers, I think writers and artists and publishers need to take a stand and not let another aspect of our society go over to the trend setters when devices and computers will inevitably keep changing (remember planned obsolescence) and information may no longer be free or as tangible as what is in our libraries.
    I know I sound like I don’t want to keep up with the inevitable, but nothing is inevitable if we don’t let it become so, don’t you think? There are reasons for keeping a diversity in publishers and content and delivery systems. Especially when delivery systems don’t/ are not supposed to last more than five years, according to the device manufacturers. Ok. I know I sound like I’m on a rant. But I am a publisher that loves making books, doesn’t make much money at it, and cares about the authors and artists, not just my pocket book. When I hold a book that I just came from the printer it makes my work seem worthwhile.
    Best of luck with your books.

    • Ken says:

      Hi Jeff,

      Your concerns are understandable.

      However, the likelihood of any of this dramatically changing book publishing completely is remote at best. Statistically, only 10% of all book sales are digital ebooks at this point, and it’s doubtful they’ll ever go above 50% at the most.

      Because as long as there are people like yourself who enjoy the feel of a real book, you probably won’t have to worry about real books, traditional book publishers, or hard copy delivery ever going away.

      Our publishing is focused on the digital delivery type, but we will never advocate it taking the place of real books. It’s merely an alternative form, and as long as it’s popular through technology, to us it as much a viable source of knowledge and information as any other.

      Now the charges coming from the DOJ are pointing toward the arrangements made between Apple and the big name traditional book publishers, of which Amazon is not involved in. Amazon, though still a big corporate giant, seems to be more inclined to working with smaller and self publishers. Is this a good thing? And is Apple’s dealing with the big guys a bad thing? Time and judgment will tell.

      All I know is there are a lot of talented writers who really aren’t in a position to go through a major publishing firm. So with digital self publishing now being available to them, and Amazon allowing them to set their own price without having to worry about competing with the big guys, I believe it’s a good thing.

      Inevitably, any market is driven by the customer, so as long as reading devices are popular, and hard copy lovers still exist, the evolution of knowledge delivery can only reach a balance.

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