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.