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Amazon Escalates Its Battle Against Publishers

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the digital-walmart dept.

Books 218

An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from the NY Times: "Amazon, under fire in much of the literary community for energetically discouraging customers from buying books from the publisher Hachette, has abruptly escalated the battle. The retailer began refusing orders late Thursday for coming Hachette books, including J.K. Rowling's new novel. The paperback edition of Brad Stone's The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon — a book Amazon disliked so much it denounced it — is suddenly listed as 'unavailable.' In some cases, even the pages promoting the books have disappeared. Anne Rivers Siddons's new novel, The Girls of August, coming in July, no longer has a page for the physical book or even the Kindle edition. Only the audio edition is still being sold (for more than $60). Otherwise it is as if it did not exist. Amazon is also flexing its muscles in Germany, delaying deliveries of books issued by Bonnier, a major publisher."

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Good news for BN? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47077481)

If Amazon stops carrying titles, will this help other retailers (online and brick and mortar)?

Re:Good news for BN? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47077675)

the question is; is it abusing a dominant market position?

I don't know enough about law to answer.

Re:Good news for BN? (-1, Troll)

0123456 (636235) | about 4 months ago | (#47077835)

the question is; is it abusing a dominant market position?

How can it be in a dominant market position in something it's refusing to sell?

Re:Good news for BN? (3, Informative)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about 4 months ago | (#47078053)

RTA: " The paperback edition of Brad Stone's The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon — a book Amazon disliked so much it denounced it — is suddenly listed as 'unavailable.' "

Re:Good news for BN? (-1, Flamebait)

0123456 (636235) | about 4 months ago | (#47078265)

Yeah, and?

Am I in a dominant market position in unicorn sales?

Re:Good news for BN? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47078327)

No but you are in being a clueless fuckwit.

Re:Good news for BN? (3, Interesting)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | about 4 months ago | (#47078257)

The market position is 'bookstore' - so the question is 'is refusing to carry one book or one publisher's book out of dislike for the subject abusing it's position as a bookstore'?

Re:Good news for BN? (1)

alen (225700) | about 4 months ago | (#47077845)

think of the old people and how hard it's to create an account on another website

remember how the old people ask you what you put into the name field, the address field, the zip code field

and soon they'll have their own drones (4, Funny)

maliqua (1316471) | about 4 months ago | (#47077485)

Think they're flexing their muscles now just wait for the drones!

Paywalls (1, Offtopic)

Kamineko (851857) | about 4 months ago | (#47077505)

Two links, both to paywalled articles.

Fantastic.

Re:Paywalls (2)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 4 months ago | (#47077571)

Two links, both to paywalled articles.

Fantastic.

Weird. Both Times articles opened fine for me. I'm in the US, and I don't have an NYT subscription.

Re:Paywalls (2)

Kremmy (793693) | about 4 months ago | (#47077907)

It doesn't always show the paywall, they've put in a few workarounds here and there so that people following links get the content. It's just more dishonesty in their attempts to monetize a website.
They also seem to send daily ads out pressuring you to get a subscription to their website, if you've given them your e-mail.
I wish content providers trying to sell their content would focus on their content instead of the money. Else what the heck are you selling?

Re:Paywalls (1)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | about 4 months ago | (#47078273)

I don't necessarily see that putting in workarounds that allow a few pageviews a month for a non-paying user as being dishonest - it's advertising. 'If you like these articles, we have more that you would need to pay for' - and they usually tell you exactly that when you hit the free limit.

Re:Paywalls (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47077925)

only 10 articles a month without subscription. It's a soft paywall.

Re:Paywalls (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47078059)

Two links, both to paywalled articles.

Fantastic.

Accept cookies from NYT and both (both are NYT sites) will work. I'm in Canada and I never have a problem with the NYT paywalled links as long as I accept their cookies.

Just delete the cookies afterwards. That's what I do.

Dangers of monoculture (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47077563)

Didn't follow the links, taking the summary at face value.

Fuck Jeff Bezos (5, Funny)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 4 months ago | (#47077591)

Next, we'll hear he's patented not selling books on the Internet.

Re:Fuck Jeff Bezos (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47077607)

I'm so confused, I thought he was part of the private space species exploration force?

Re:Fuck Jeff Bezos (1)

rasmusbr (2186518) | about 4 months ago | (#47077711)

I wonder how all this will affect my upcoming book Why Jeff Bezos Is More Awesome Than Elon Musk (working title).

Re:Fuck Jeff Bezos (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47078341)

I would start by a novelette titled: "Jeff Bezos: The man that thought one can stop to be straight"

Amazon provides a service (4, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | about 4 months ago | (#47077605)

Of selling books, often below their cost, and providing a secure system(Kindle DRM) for authors to sell e books. While there is certainly a downward pressure on the price of books due to Amazon, the reality is that authors probably sell a hell of lot more books because of Amazon. I do not see how a publisher can complain. After all, if Amazon is not providing a service, they are free to sell physical books through Barnes and Noble, for instance, as well as sell unencumbered e-books through any number of online sources. They can digitally mark each e-book for each customer, and litigate those that resell or otherwise pirate.

I happily go to O'Reilly and pay $40 for a physical and unencumbered PDF copy of a book. What publishers aren't doing is moving with market forces. The value of book is not what it used to be. The average American is not making what was the previous expectation. We are in a deflationary period. Amazon is under pressure to show a better return on investment. They do not have to sell products when the supplier wants excessive value. It is like a restaurant not selling Coca Cola products. SOme don't because Pepsi cuts a better deal.

Re:Amazon provides a service (1)

JenovaSynthesis (528503) | about 4 months ago | (#47077707)

True. But Amazon cannot blackmail the publisher using its marketing clout either. It would be like Microsoft making it so Windows will not run a certain company's software.

Re:Amazon provides a service (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47077809)

No it'd be like a restaurant not selling Coca Cola, and offering customers a Pepsi instead.

Re:Amazon provides a service (2)

tngaijin (997389) | about 4 months ago | (#47078733)

This analogy misses out on a key piece of what Amazon is doing. A more accurate analogy along similar lines would be a restaurant advertising Coca Cola and then offering customers that finally came in a Pepsi right now, or a Coca Cola in an inordinately long amount of time later. I don't know what amount of searches start at Amazon or book PLAs point to Amazon but I would bet it is pretty high which makes this behaviour all the more repulsive to me.

Re:Amazon provides a service (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47077829)

That's a stretch. It's more like Microsoft not selling you a copy of Wordperfect to run on your Windows computer. You can't just make up false comparisons to slot Amazon into your idea of a villainous company.

Re:Amazon provides a service (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47077933)

That's true about shipment of books, but less true when we're talking e-books with DRM running on kindle hardware. Say I bought a kindle and now I can't read books from a particular publisher on it...that's very much like microsoft saying that they wouldn't run a certain company's software.

Re:Amazon provides a service (1)

stewsters (1406737) | about 4 months ago | (#47077877)

You purchase windows to install on your computer, but you don't purchase amazon, so its a little different. It would be more like Walmart not selling your product because you don't agree to their rock bottom pricing they want to force on you. Which is also an issue.

Re:Amazon provides a service (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47078087)

very true, microsoft has never rigged [wikipedia.org] dos or windows to degrade or error with other company's software, or used its market dominance to force their own will on its customers.

Re:Amazon provides a service (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47078783)

It would be like Microsoft making it so Windows will not run a certain company's software.

You mean they way Microsoft built checks for not-MS-DOS into Windows back in the days of Windows 3.x? They eventually disabled them, sure, but they built the checks and then obfuscated them.

Re:Amazon provides a service - this! (1)

Moskit (32486) | about 4 months ago | (#47078323)

An excellent point!

Amazon doesn't sell e/books. They provide a service for reading e/books. In some countries e/books are even taxed as a service instead of a physical good, at a higher rate.

There is a push now to charge higher tax only for service-type e/books (DRM-ladden, restricted to device/user, not resellable) and lower tax for proper e/books (no DRM, at most a watermark, can be passed around). It would not only be fair, but also appropriately reflect what you are actually paying for.

Re:Amazon provides a service - this! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47078491)

Send any e/mails lately?

Thank God Apple's e-book "monopoly" was crushed... (2, Funny)

Capt.Gingi (89525) | about 4 months ago | (#47077629)

Thank God Apple's e-book "monopoly" was crushed! Now we don't have to worry about there being a single, monolithic, insane entity controlling the entire marketplace dictating terms with impunity to the publishers.....yeah...good thing...

Re:Thank God Apple's e-book "monopoly" was crushed (1)

JenovaSynthesis (528503) | about 4 months ago | (#47077695)

You're comparing Apples and Crocodiles. Apple rigged prices with the collusion of the major publishers which is illegal.

Re:Thank God Apple's e-book "monopoly" was crushed (1, Informative)

aristotle-dude (626586) | about 4 months ago | (#47077869)

You're comparing Apples and Crocodiles. Apple rigged prices with the collusion of the major publishers which is illegal.

I think you are confused. Do you work at the DOJ by any chance. The agency model removed control over pricing from the vendor and gave it to the publishers. That means that Apple had no control over pricing.

Re:Thank God Apple's e-book "monopoly" was crushed (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 4 months ago | (#47077959)

That means that Apple had no control over pricing.

No, that presumably meant Apple's competitors couldn't sell books for less than Apple.

Re:Thank God Apple's e-book "monopoly" was crushed (2)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about 4 months ago | (#47078241)

No, that presumably meant Apple's competitors couldn't sell books for less than Apple.

It could also be interpreted as the publisher couldn't charge more to iTune users than they do anywhere else. The publisher still set the price.

Re:Thank God Apple's e-book "monopoly" was crushed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47078743)

Even if Apple's cut was higher than anyone else.

Opportunity for other resellers? (1)

digsbo (1292334) | about 4 months ago | (#47077637)

Isn't this a classic case of a bad business move by a big business creating incentives for other firms to fill that market need? Am I missing something? Sure, it's not great for the publisher in question, but heck - there is going to be a lot of money made by whomever DOES sell JK Rowling's next book.

Re:Opportunity for other resellers? (1)

onproton (3434437) | about 4 months ago | (#47077819)

This isn't so much about business as it is about Bezos.

eBook anti-trust against Apple was absurd (3, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 4 months ago | (#47077649)

Apple and the publishers were trying to ensure there was a choice in eBook providers.

What Amazon is showing is the consequence of allowed, through government action, Amazon to utterly control the online eBook (and just plain Book Book) market.

Amazon wields way too much power and whatever publishers - and other book vendors - can do in response should be allowed.

Re:eBook anti-trust against Apple was absurd (4, Informative)

0123456 (636235) | about 4 months ago | (#47077883)

Uh, no. I don't know anyone outside the Jobs Reality Alteration Bubble who didn't see it as a blatant violation of anti-trust laws.

There are a ton of online book vendors, and Amazon's online print sales are a small fraction of the print market. The majority of books they sell these days are ebooks.

BTW, wasn't one of Hatchette's recent complaints that Amazon weren't discounting their books enough?

Re:eBook anti-trust against Apple was absurd (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47078677)

Uh, no. Amazon's consistent, across-the-board selling ebooks at a loss to drive their competition out of business (aka "dumping") is a violation of antitrust laws (for this very reason. It allows the seller to get a monopolistic stranglehold on the market which they can then use for nefarious purposes).

The agency model the publishers switched to in order to combat this is perfectly legal. The agency model simply says that instead of the owner of a good selling it to the middle man who then resells it on their own at their own price, the owner contracts with the middle man as a sales agent, where the middle man sells at the owner's price and gets a set percentage. This allows multiple online stores to successfully sell the same product, rather than there being just one winner in the market (the large one who is willing to sell at a loss).

And yet in the bullshit collusion case brought against the publishers and Apple, the only "evidence" that the price of ebooks went up was the fact that Amazon was forced to stop selling at a loss. The prices the publishers were charging for the product didn't really change at all. They'd been charging $12-$18 depending on the book, and Amazon was turning around and selling those for $9.99. The $9.99 ebook "market" never existed to begin with outside of Amazon's illegal dumping scheme.

Re:eBook anti-trust against Apple was absurd (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47077923)

Apple and the publishers were trying to illegally fix prices

FTFY

Re:eBook anti-trust against Apple was absurd (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47078693)

Apple and the publishers were trying to put a halt to Amazon's illegal dumping scheme

FTFY. I have yet to see anyone explain how Amazon's behavior is legal or healthy for the market.

Re:eBook anti-trust against Apple was absurd (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47078071)

Amazing how many people continue to push this "Apple was trying to help" agenda.
Out of the goodness of Steve's heart (and he has a rich history of goodwill) he tried to help the poor publishers out? He totally did not try to lock in his 30% with zero competition on price, right?

Price fixing is not legal, end of story.

It wasn't legal when the LCD monitor manufacturers did it, it wasn't legal when Apple and the publishers did it.

Not about goodness, about evenness (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 4 months ago | (#47078663)

Out of the goodness of Steve's heart (and he has a rich history of goodwill) he tried to help the poor publishers out?

Not sure why everyone is so confused about this.

It was not out of Apple's goodness. It was not even legal. What I am saying is that against a real monopolists, some rules against group actions should be abolished. Amazon is able to dictate terms and harm publishers without recourse because Apple (the only serious challenger against Amazon consuming the whole eBook market) was slapped down along with the publishers trying to help distribute control.

Why you all make it out to be it has to be Apple being good to be helpful is beyond me, it's not about Apple's benevolence but about allowing actual competition in market where one company is running roughshod.

Re:Not about goodness, about evenness (1)

blackiner (2787381) | about 4 months ago | (#47078861)

There is a pretty tried and true method to handle monopolistic businesses: petitioning the government to start an anti-trust investigation and possibly taking the company to court. Just because one company is behaving badly does not mean others can become vigilantes and do whatever they please.

Re:eBook anti-trust against Apple was absurd (1)

lgw (121541) | about 4 months ago | (#47078123)

Utterly control? There's more than one way to buy a book. Since when has (less that total) censorship resulted in fewer books sales? TFA should really be tagged "Streisand Effect", as I'd never heard of this book before.

Uninformed Comment (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47077657)

It seems like publishers should go away and authors should publish straight to Amazon, if Amazon is trying to cut out the publisher or cut them practically to nothing, I don't see the harm, what does the middle-man do anyway?

Re:Uninformed Comment (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 4 months ago | (#47077995)

I don't see the harm, what does the middle-man do anyway?

$1,000 Manhattan lunches?

Re:Uninformed Comment (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about 4 months ago | (#47078099)

Isn't Amazon the middle man - why not sell direct to the consumer :o

Re: Uninformed Comment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47078195)

What do you think Create Space is for?

https://www.createspace.com

Re:Uninformed Comment (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47078325)

The middle man is the one who pays the author an advance, so he doesn't starve while working on his book full-time. The middle man also has dedicated marketing and fulfillment departments that do the same work for many authors, spreading time and costs.

Finally, the publisher spreads the risk around. If you are a self-published author and your first book does not sell well, you're out a lot of time and effort, may be bankrupt, and you may never write another book again. If you are with a publisher and your first book does not sell well, but you show promise as an author, you get to try again.

This is all in theory.

So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47077681)

That is their prerogative. These publishers aren't entitled to Amazon's resources.

Re:So? (2)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about 4 months ago | (#47078113)

Stupid people should not post: "Amazon, which is under immense pressure from Wall Street to improve its profit margins, is trying to get better terms on e-books out of Hachette, the smallest of the top five New York publishers, as well as Bonnier. For several months, Amazon has been quietly discouraging the sales of Hachette’s physical books by several techniques — cutting the customer’s discount so the book approaches list price; taking weeks to ship the book; suggesting prospective customers buy other books instead; and increasing the discount for the Kindle version."

YOU FAIL IT (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47077683)

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every other building a fallout shelter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47077731)

geiger (no longer in the spellchecker) counters,, fallout shelters,, everybody had some http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=gieger+counter+fallout+shelter during that terror so we must be safe now as no alarms have been issued.... poison air & water is our normal now so we should be thrilled how our dna is advancing enabling us to survive our progress as history races up to correct itself/us. former hobbyist whiner blogs are now 100% corepirate nazi hired goon media mongrel propaganda... must keep the lights on,,, millions in debt, the 'free' software 'community' has finally gained tangible 'support' at what cost to the semi-innocent hobbyists' good spirits? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1F2zl4LqSlg we can thank the imaginary self chosens on madison ave. for such terms as 'civil' wars,, 'perfect' balance & a schlog of other wit coated words to make WMD on credit genocides look necessary & of good intent.. with 8 definitions for depression we're in the lead there too... rock on /. http://youtu.be/BN3CaotRgVQ all in some failed effort to hide our real history & heritage of murderous acquisition from ourselves yet the world knows the truth about our history & motives http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=kevin+arnett

Re:every other building a fallout shelter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47078711)

Geiger is actually in the spell checker, when you use proper capitalization of proper nouns.

You have a right to not carry items... (1, Insightful)

Hangtime (19526) | about 4 months ago | (#47077771)

right up and until the point where you wield monopoly power. In this case, Amazon has hit that point. When you become the market, you have to be the market thus have open access. Sorry, that's the price of success.

Re:You have a right to not carry items... (3, Interesting)

0123456 (636235) | about 4 months ago | (#47077899)

right up and until the point where you wield monopoly power. In this case, Amazon has hit that point.

Yeah, that's true. I mean, no-one can go to a book store and buy these books, can they? Amazon have a monopoly, and there's nowhere else the publisher can sell these books if Amazon refuse to do so.

Re:You have a right to not carry items... (0)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about 4 months ago | (#47078127)

Yo douche bag, RTFA: "For several months, Amazon has been quietly discouraging the sales of Hachette’s physical books by several techniques — cutting the customer’s discount so the book approaches list price; taking weeks to ship the book; suggesting prospective customers buy other books instead; and increasing the discount for the Kindle version."

Re:You have a right to not carry items... (2)

0123456 (636235) | about 4 months ago | (#47078249)

Yeah, and? If the publisher is upset by high prices, they can cut the price they sell the books to Amazon before. If the book is taking a long time to ship, the customer can go to the local book store.

Oh, you're not going to tell me their local book store doesn't stock these books, are you?

Yep, it's absolutely true (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 4 months ago | (#47078179)

There is no way I can go to a Barnes and Nobels to buy books. There aren't two in my city alone, and also their website. There also aren't other general purpose retailers who sell books and tons of other good like Amazon. We certainly don't have 5 Targets, 10 Walmarts, 3 Costcos (and associated websites) in town. There also aren't any local booksellers or anything. And of course you can't buy eBooks from anyone else, certainly not from Apple, who's market capitalization far exceeds Amazon's.

I think some geeks like the GP need to get out of their house more often.

Re:You have a right to not carry items... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47077987)

You mean ability.

Once, I had an idea that a bookstore was for the free.

Re:You have a right to not carry items... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47078515)

Amazon hasn't hit that point. Sorry, that's the facts of the business.

Re:You have a right to not carry items... (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 4 months ago | (#47078725)

It just wouldnt be slashdot without all of the armchair lawyers. Which bar did you pass, again?

Re:You have a right to not carry items... (1)

NoKaOi (1415755) | about 4 months ago | (#47078831)

right up and until the point where you wield monopoly power. In this case, Amazon has hit that point. When you become the market, you have to be the market thus have open access. Sorry, that's the price of success.

There's a difference between a monopoly where customers have no choice, and a dominant player where most customer's choose to go as a result of that dominant player's success. This is different than an ISP where people literally have no choice. This is different from Microsoft in 2001 where people perceived they had no choice. I doubt most people who buy books from Amazon think it's the only book-seller out there. Don't get me wrong, I'm not arguing one way or the other whether Amazon is evil, merely stating it's not a monopoly.

In fact, one of the authors of the Sherman Antitrust Act put it like this:

"... [a person] who merely by superior skill and intelligence...got the whole business because nobody could do it as well as he could was not a monopolist..(but was if) it involved something like the use of means which made it impossible for other persons to engage in fair competition."

Surprise (1)

onproton (3434437) | about 4 months ago | (#47077815)

Behold the subtlety of the narcissistic mind.

Or rather, Hachette stopped shipping to Amazon. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47077861)

The Passive Voice blog has been covering this [thepassivevoice.com] , and apparently Hachette's shipping department is running incredibly far behind on orders. Like ten days or more.

It sounds like Amazon finally gave up on accepting orders until Hachette catches up, or stops playing games with Amazon, whichever the problem really is.

Re:Or rather, Hachette stopped shipping to Amazon. (0)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about 4 months ago | (#47078141)

Reall? FTA: "“Your actions to raise the prices of our books, place banners touting books that ‘are similar but lower in price’ and saying that our books will ship in 3-5 weeks when they are in stock is not only a disgusting negotiation practice, but it has made me tell my readers to shop elsewhere — and they are and will,” she wrote."

Re:Or rather, Hachette stopped shipping to Amazon. (2)

0123456 (636235) | about 4 months ago | (#47078237)

Yeah, and? Why should we believe them, rather than Amazon?

I tend to trust a writer who's losing money becasue of this more than I trust either Amazon or their publisher. Particularly when the publisher apparently refused to give the writer the information they'd need to prove who's delaying the shipments.

Re:Or rather, Hachette stopped shipping to Amazon. (2)

daremonai (859175) | about 4 months ago | (#47078683)

Along those same lines, it should be noted that the paperback edition of "The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon" will not be out until October 7, 2014, so it's not too surprising it was shown as "unavailable." Actually, if you go to Amazon right now, it does list the paperback edition (http://www.amazon.com/Everything-Store-Jeff-Bezos-Amazon/dp/0593070461/) as available, but it looks like it's only from third-party sellers, who may have mixed up their hardcover and paperback listings. The hardcover edition is available from Amazon, and at a cheaper price than, say, Barnes and Noble.

Streisand effect (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47077867)

I hadn't heard about this, much more interested in reading these Banned Amazon Books, now.

Book Publishers deserve it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47077873)

For centuries they have built themselves ivory towers to rule over an empire; and now Amazon & the Internet threaten their empire. Ask anyone that tried to get a book published before 2000, even JKR herself (her 1st book was rejected by almost every publisher) . It was impossible and publishers made authors sign their lives away when they did agree. JKR was actually lucky a big publisher didn't accept it, because they would have made her sign away movie rights.

Not illegal (4, Insightful)

rahvin112 (446269) | about 4 months ago | (#47077903)

Amazon is using tried and true business methods here to lower costs by strong arming the producers. As long as they aren't a monopoly (and they aren't unless B&N goes out of business) there is absolutely nothing illegal about what they are doing. In fact it might just lower prices for consumers at the expense of revenue for the publishers and I'm not convinced that's a bad thing.

Consider their goal is lower prices overall I support their push to force publishers to lower book prices. eBook prices in particular are absurd, publishers took the opportunity to dramatically boost profit margins (I wouldn't be surprised if eBook pricing had boosted profits triple their dead tree version) and I love the idea of Amazon using their size and sales volume as a weapon to bring those prices back in line with dead tree versions. Publishers fuck the authors over just like the music and movie companies and they all deserve a healthy slap and dramatically reduced margins, selling a book shouldn't net more than 10% ROI IMO and should be closer to 3%.

Re:Not illegal (2)

0123456 (636235) | about 4 months ago | (#47077947)

I wouldn't be surprised if eBook pricing had boosted profits triple their dead tree version

I believe that's in the right ballpark. A typical ebook agreement seems to give publishers about 75% of the income from an ebook vs 25% to the author, and their ebook prices are often higher than paper book prices.

Frankly, I'm amused to see the number of people here talking about the poor, put-upon publishers, when those publishers are earning three times as much as the actual writer from an ebook sale. Couldn't posters spare a thought for those who actually wrote the book now and again?

Re:Not illegal (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about 4 months ago | (#47078045)

Frankly, I'm amused to see the number of people here talking about the poor, put-upon publishers, when those publishers are earning three times as much as the actual writer from an ebook sale. Couldn't posters spare a thought for those who actually wrote the book now and again?

They do;as do the publishers. It starts with the letter F and with the letter U.

Re:Not illegal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47078205)

Frankly, I'm amused to see the number of people here talking about the poor, put-upon publishers, when those publishers are earning three times as much as the actual writer from an ebook sale.

Especially since it's hard to see what publishers bring to the table nowadays.
Publishing must be pure profit nowadays, since they don't print anything and don't seem anything to what the author did.
Once upon a time they edited books before printing them. Have you seen the errors in a typical ebook?

Re:Not illegal (1)

janoc (699997) | about 4 months ago | (#47078043)

It could pretty well be illegal in Europe. Many EU countries have laws banning this sort of tactics as the abuse of the "market power". If you have more than a certain percentage of the market, you are treated as a quasi-monopoly and restrictions apply. These laws are mostly targeted at various retail chains that have abusive terms in their supplier contracts, but it is only a matter of time before this gets applied to Amazon, Google and similar.

Re:Not illegal (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about 4 months ago | (#47078163)

Yeah because Amazon is looking out for you: "Amazon, which is under immense pressure from Wall Street to improve its profit margins, is trying to get better terms on e-books out of Hachette, the smallest of the top five New York publishers, as well as Bonnier." Douche bag.

Re:Not illegal (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about 4 months ago | (#47078269)

Sort of like Walmart but for books.

Re:Not illegal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47078425)

[...] selling a book shouldn't net more than 10% ROI IMO and should be closer to 3%.

Why don't you start your own publishing house and show us all how great it is to publish books with 3% of ROI?

Re:Not illegal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47078545)

In fact it might just lower prices for consumers at the expense of revenue for the publishers and I'm not convinced that's a bad thing.

It's said this is being done to increase profit for Amazon, not lower prices overall. But dream on.

Re:Not illegal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47078817)

They can be a monopoly with other nominal players still on the field.

Blech... (1)

Brad_McBad (1423863) | about 4 months ago | (#47077963)

This is a shitty, monopolistic way to go about it, but amazon kind of have a point. eBooks, a product which has no per-unit cost often cost the same amount, or *slightly* less to purchase on Kindle. If there's no physical cost to produce, then it's a shitty move to try getting the customer to pay the same for what is frankly an inferior product.

Re:Blech... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47078807)

Production and distribution of a mass-market paperback costs less than $0.75 per book, and ebooks have their own distribution costs (less, but it cuts the difference even further). The majority of a book's cost, electronic or paper, is in the editing, formatting, illustrating, and marketing. The difference in per-unit cost is negligible. And "inferior" as a categorical description is stupid as they are clearly superior in many ways; ebooks are huge space-savers, can be formatted to your personal liking, and being able to search the text is surprisingly convenient.

Available to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47077997)

The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon is available, but reading the reviews, I think I'll pass.

Book Neutrality (2)

kindbud (90044) | about 4 months ago | (#47078215)

Amazon: Big on Net Neutrality [huffingtonpost.com] , not so much on Book Neutrality.

Re:Book Neutrality (2)

Slayer (6656) | about 4 months ago | (#47078331)

Amazon: Big on Net Neutrality [huffingtonpost.com] , not so much on Book Neutrality.

And biggest hypocrits, too. Remember the wikileaks saga? Wikileaks was hosted on Amazon cloud - for a few days, until some congress critters gave Amazon a nice phone call. [arstechnica.com]

Amazon and net neutrality my ass. That was the day I decided to no longer do any business with Amazon. A bookstore and hosting service that engages in politically motivated censorship does not deserve my business, and the story posted here shows how far Amazon is willing to go.

Re:Book Neutrality (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 4 months ago | (#47078499)

Amazon has always been in favor of whatever is best for Amazon. Even if it's hypocritical. It's a self-consistent position.

Never used it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47078297)

Amazon - the Walmart of the internet - no bricks, just clicks

No Thanks.

Buy From A Competitor - Amazon Is A Nasty Company (1)

turgid (580780) | about 4 months ago | (#47078345)

Don't give Amazon your money. They avoid paying tax and they treat their staff like dirt. Choose an alternative [ethicalconsumer.org] .

Re:Buy From A Competitor - Amazon Is A Nasty Compa (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47078447)

I call BS.
Amazon avoids paying taxes just as any other American corporation within the letter of the law.
And they treat their staff exceptionally well. They even pay you to leave the job if you are unhappy. http://usat.ly/PVr6HX [usat.ly]

Re:Buy From A Competitor - Amazon Is A Nasty Compa (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47078645)

Having seen some of those ex-workers, Amazon got off cheap.

No Sympathy for the Publishers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47078379)

These same publishers were quick to scheme and plot against amazon when they had Apple helping them. They colluded and tried to price fix and screw over consumers.
Now the shoe is on the other foot. And amazon getting a better deal means better prices for consumers.
Boo effin hoo.

Muscle-flexing (1)

jdavidb (449077) | about 4 months ago | (#47078557)

Way to go injecting politics into the discussion. FTFA:

âoeWhat we are seeing is a classic case of muscle-flexing,â said Andrew Rhomberg, founder of Jellybooks, an e-book discovery site. âoeKind of like Vladimir Putin mobilizing his troops along the Ukrainian border.â

The other opinion of that is that Crimea has the right to secede and receive help from Putin or anybody they please. Thank you for making it harder for me to listen to you objectively by dropping a political dispute into this.

You know (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | about 4 months ago | (#47078571)

it's almost like having a company with a virtual monopoly on online sales is a bad thing. But hey, you don't _have_ to shop at Amazon, right? Not yet anyway... And they certainly wouldn't use their massive size to undercut all competition while making razor thin profits that no mom and pop could possibly sustain. And besides... Americans don't shop only on price, right? Boy, there are so many good reasons not to regulate here I can't pick just one.

Light on details (1)

jdavidb (449077) | about 4 months ago | (#47078593)

I read the entire article and still don't know what Amazon wants. Apparently they just like to be mean, according to the author.

Censorship in another form (1)

MrKaos (858439) | about 4 months ago | (#47078629)

There is no need to burn the books when you can just remove them from the shelves. The great thing about ereaders too is that all you reading habits can be tracked and the distribution of ideas can also be limited.

All that Amazon has shown is how to achieve that end.

Oxymoron (2)

Allasard (565291) | about 4 months ago | (#47078631)

Are they trying to bury the Hachette?
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