Apple vs. Amazon
Famous business author Seth Godin reported at paidContent that Apple didn’t approve his latest book (Stop Stealing Dreams, which you can download for free in many formats at the link) to be sold in the iBooks store because inside it are Amazon links to the books he mentions in the bibliography. Apple told Mr. Godin the book was not approved to be sold by Apple because of “Multiple links to Amazon.”
This is scary because as Godin says, “We’re heading to a world where there are just a handful of influential bookstores (Amazon, Apple, Nook…) and one by one, the principles of open access are disappearing.”
TechCrunch has a great writeup on the whole debacle if you’d like to read more.
SFWA vs. Amazon
Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, a nonprofit association of professional science fiction and fantasy writers, has removed links to Amazon and has pointed them instead elsewhere. (Though the links to Amazon remain if that is the only place where the books is sold.) The reasoning is explained in this SFWA blog post:
In recent days, Amazon.com decided to remove more than 4000 e-books from its website after a pricing dispute with IPG. The Independent Publishing Group is one of the largest independent distributors in the United States.
While Amazon has the right to decide with what company it does business, its removal of many of our authors’ books from its ordering system will have an economic impact on them. Our authors depend on people buying their books and a significant percentage of them have books distributed through IPG. Therefore, SFWA is redirecting Amazon.com links from the organization’s website to other booksellers because we would prefer to send traffic to stores where the books can actually be purchased.
To that end, our volunteers are in the process of redirecting book links to indiebound.org, Powell’s, and Barnes and Noble.
The comments on the blog post are really interesting. They run from, “Screw you guys. Amazon 4-EVAR!” to “DEATH TO AMAZON!!!!!!” and everything in between.
The publishing world vs. Amazon
And finally, here is a fascinating article (titled “How to Counter Amazon: Create a One World E-Book Alliance”) at Publishing Perspectives about how the publishing world can band together to battle Amazon. The article starts off with this summary: “The aeronautical industry, once dominated by Boeing, managed to develop Airbus. The publishing industry should aspire to create its own ‘cultural Airbus.’”
I’m not really going to elaborate more on that article because it’s pretty complicated. Go read it if you’re interested. My point in sharing it is to show that at least that section of the publishing world is anti-Amazon. No big surprise there.
Keeping things in perspective
One reader’s comment on that last article sums up my feelings on the subject:
I dread to think what the book industry would be like today were it not for Amazon’s innovation and unashamed focus on delivering value to its customers . We readers have benefited hugely, and so too have publishers, but few are honest enough to admit it.
That’s my stance on the issue. I obviously love Amazon. As an avid reader and someone who prefers to shop online, Amazon has been nothing but awesome to me. I love the company because it makes my life so much better and easier (I mean come on, free shipping on orders over $25 and thousands of free Kindle books??).
But do I think Amazon is being a bully? Yes. I think the IDG episode highlights that clearly. But what’s the alternative? Barnes and Noble? Right. That’s the company that put thousands of independent bookstores out of business. Is B&N really any less guilty than Amazon? Does B&N really have the authors’ and readers’ bet interests at heart?
No. Every company is selfish. Every company wants to make more money. Everyone is just pissed because Amazon is better at it than they are. Amazon figured out how to make its customers happy in a way that is also good for business. But until these other companies make my life better and easier, why should I give them my money?