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    © 2014, Joseph B. Wikert
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« Disappointed by Google | Main | What if DRM Goes Away? »

April 16, 2012

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Aaron Pressman

I don't agree with much here but I wanted to ask you about an inconsistency. In your post last week about Google pulling the rug out from under independent booksellers, you blamed Google for not investing enough -- and that was under the agency pricing regime. Agency pricing did not provide Google with an incentive to invest, by your logic. Today, you've implied that Google ending the program can somehow be blamed on the DOJ lawsuit or something. I agreed the first time and find the citation here odd.

Also, I would be shocked and amazed and eat my hat if Apple stops selling ebooks when the current agency pricing contracts with 3 of the big 6 get canceled in a few months because of the settlement. New business arrangements are on the way.

J.N. Duncan

This has kind of been my thought on the whole thing as well. I get tired of hearing the "free market" rhetoric and how Amazon's methods are just the capitalist, American way, and you either adapt and survive or go away.

While I can't say that I have huge sympathy for the publishers either, who have dropped the ball in a major way with digital publishing, I'm certainly not glorifying Amazon's cut-throat business practices either. Amazon has one goal with books (in my opinion), which is to drive consumers to the store so that they will use their spending power on more profitable items. Books are a great gateway product. They realized this a long time ago and have used this fact to great advantage. It is no small advantage to be able to eat profits when your competitors can't.

Bezos claims to want to transform the publishing industry, to bring it into a new age. I'll be really curious how this plays out when the transformation doesn't really change the landscape so much as wipe it clean. While new forms and models might rise out of these ashes, Amazon will be in the wonderful position of owning the landscape and being able to dictate its future. If I were to guess, I'd say that at some point, when big publishers start filing for bankruptcy, Barnes and Noble is gone, and nobody can afford to get into the book retailing business, we might find the DoJ moving in a different direction than they have now and regretting they stepped into this whole mess in the first place.

Joe Wikert

Hi Aaron. I never said anything about the agency model in that Google post. My point there was that Google simply wasn't investing in an ebookstore. The post had nothing to do with agency vs. wholesale models.

Do I feel that Google's announcement to end their reseller program is a sign that ebooks aren't that important to them? Absolutely. Google's announcement preceded the DoJ's though, so I'm not saying one led to the other.

And when I said "Apple will lose interest" I'm not suggesting they'll shut iBooks down tomorrow. What I *am* saying though is I'm not convinced Apple will be all that interested in selling ebooks at a loss just to match Amazon's prices. Apple only has a tiny share of the ebook market and this certainly isn't going to help them.

carmen webster buxton

Everyone keeps talking like Amazon is the ebook player with the deepest pockets when in fact, Apple could buy Amazon out of their petty cash drawer. They haven't done that, and they don't seem to be doing terribly well at selling books, either, even with agency pricing. I think the Big 6 should stop fighting a holding action and look to the future. Do what O'Reilly is doing: sell direct to customers (you know who your customers are that way), and ditch DRM. The O'Reilly books I have bought are on my Kindle but they can also be on my iPad as epub books (if I buy an iPad). What a great incentive for readers!

And if you're going to talk to competing publishers, don't leave an email trail.


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