Kudos to Mark Suchomel and the stance he's taking with Amazon at IPG. As Don Linn mentions here, this is indeed a gutsy move but I hope Suchomel holds firm. I've written before about Amazon's formula and how it's slowly locking me into their platform. Interestingly enough, if you take a closer look at that formula post you'll see I was Mr. Amazon Advocate in a fun Apple vs. Amazon debate I had with Kassia Krozser.
A lot has changed since that friendly debate last fall. In a few short months I've gone from Amazon fan to Amazon critic. One reason I've become disenchanted has to do with Amazon's Kindle Owners' Lending Library. As Amazon stated in the Lending Library press release, compensation to publishers for "the vast majority of titles" is on a "fixed fee" basis. I strongly feel this should be an uncapped, pay-for-performance model similar to what Safari Books Online and Books24x7 offer. Unless you have a perfect crystal ball anything less than a pay-for-performance model risks underpaying publishers and authors. And yes, it also risks overpaying but I seriously doubt that's happened up to now.
Then there was last December's showrooming debacle. Even though bookstores were excluded, did Amazon really need to take such an over-the-top approach and poke brick-and-mortars in the eye with the price check incentives on December 9th? This, after all the years of having a built-in price advantage over many of those brick-and-mortar stores because of state tax deals and loopholes. I'm glad my home state of Indiana is addressing this issue but I think it's ridiculous it won't take effect till 2014.
And now Amazon is reportedly leaning on IPG for even more favorable terms than they've agreed to in the past. Good for you, Mark Suchomel, I just became a big fan of yours.
Many of you are probably shrugging your shoulders and saying this is all about choice. Publishers can remain out of the Kindle Owners' Lending Library program if they don't like the terms. And customers were showrooming long before Amazon released their app; if I don't like it, I shouldn't do it myself and/or I should buy from other vendors. IPG's choice was to take a stand and now their Kindle editions aren't available on Amazon.
You're right. This is about choice. I've been choosing Amazon for all my ebooks up to now and it's time to put my money where my mouth is.
It's unfortunate that when you buy an eInk reader you're pretty much locked in with that vendor's content library. But that's not the case with a tablet, at least the ones that aren't tied to a single e-bookstore. Now that I have this terrific new Asus Transformer Prime Android tablet I'm beholden to no single ebook retailer. It's time to start buying ebooks from bn.com, Kobo, or anyone else with an Android reader app. It's less than optimal to manage an ebook library across retailers but it's also very liberating.
So as of today, Monday, February 27, 2012, I'm officially breaking my Amazon habit. How about you?