Even though today is Apple’s day in the sun with the release of the iPhone 4Gs, Amazon has been having a good run of late.
A couple weeks ago, they announced their Kindle Touch and Fire. Both are impressive pieces of electronic equipment. The Kindle Touch begins at $79 (with ads… or as Amazon calls them–“special offers”) and the Kindle Fire at $199. The popular press liked to report that Amazon is taking Apple head on in the table wars with the Fire, but I know and you know Amazon has smaller fish to kill before making toward the whale.
Barnes and Noble.
The only real competition Amazon has in the eBook and eReader business are the folks at B&N with their nook and nook Color. And really, it’s not a fair fight. Amazon, so large and so comfortable. Barnes and Noble, standing on the rotting pole of bookselling and wobbling. Even though B&N has pulled a few predatory tricks of their own, thus making it hard to have overwhelming sympathy for the company’s plight, I hope that Amazon fails to swat them away. The publishing business needs B&N (and Books-A-Million and Hastings and the remaining independent stores) because when they go down, Amazon becomes the only game in town.
Amazon will control a large swath of media content. They will have a firm grip on all layers of the publishing business. Vending. Distributing. Publishing. Printing. Perhaps not enough to call a monopoly, but they will control the sandbox in which we play (similar to the tight grip Apple maintains over iTunes and their App Store).
Sadly, the machine continues to be lubricated by those within the publishing business. Writers willing to self-publish and sell novels for 99 cents (see Paul Jessup’s smart post). Writers signing directly with Amazon (these Pied Pipers, as I like to call them, are supposedly paid for their “books”, but in reality they are nothing more than well-paid mouthpieces who are being used to trick the naive to jump in face first into Amazon’s plans to own the publishing world). Publishers, such as DC Entertainment (who signed to sell digital content exclusively through the Kindle), are throwing gasoline on the fire. And we publishers continue to sell our books and eBooks via Amazon, helping to finance all this trouble.
I don’t rightly hate Amazon. I admire their marketing genius. I admire their technological accomplishments. The truth is, we’re the ones letting (making?) this happen. And running a publishing company, it falls on me to figure out a way to make it work (as Tim Gunn likes to say… I love that guy!), or it is bye-bye business. Same goes for all the other publishers of the world. If your business fails, you take ownership of that failure, you don’t blame the success of others.
So on this day, Apple’s big day, I say we take a step away from these mega-corps that so completely own our future. They’ll get enough of our money soon enough, right? Let’s spend a few bucks elsewhere. If only to delay the inevitable.