Amazon.com vs. book publishers

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John F
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Amazon.com vs. book publishers

Post by John F » Sat May 24, 2014 6:30 am

Personal disclosure: I haven't bought a book from amazon.com in a long time. I deal with Barnes & Noble, not because of this issue but because they offer a better deal.

As Publishers Fight Amazon, Books Vanish
By DAVID STREITFELD and MELISSA EDDY
May 23, 2014

Amazon’s power over the publishing and bookselling industries is unrivaled in the modern era. Now it has started wielding its might in a more brazen way than ever before. Seeking ever-higher payments from publishers to bolster its anemic bottom line, Amazon is holding books and authors hostage on two continents by delaying shipments and raising prices.

The literary community is fearful and outraged — and practically begging for government intervention. “How is this not extortion? You know, the thing that is illegal when the Mafia does it,” asked Dennis Loy Johnson of Melville House, echoing remarks being made across social media.

Amazon is, as usual, staying mum. “We talk when we have something to say,” Jeffrey P. Bezos, the founder and chief executive, said at the company’s annual meeting this week.

The battle is being waged largely over physical books. In the United States, Amazon has been discouraging customers from buying titles from Hachette, the fourth-largest publisher by market share. Late Thursday, it escalated the dispute by making it impossible to order Hachette titles being issued this summer and fall. It is using some of the same tactics against the Bonnier Media Group in Germany.

But the real prize is control of e-books, the future of publishing. Publishers tried to rein in Amazon once, and got slapped with a federal antitrust suit for their efforts. Amazon was not directly a party to the case but has reaped the rewards in increased market power. Now it wants to increase its share of the digital proceeds. The publishers, weighing a slide into irrelevance if not nonexistence, are trying to hold the line.

Late Friday afternoon, Hachette made by far its strongest comment on the conflict. “We are determined to protect the value of our authors’ books and our own work in editing, distributing and marketing them,” said Sophie Cottrell, a Hachette senior vice president. “We hope this difficult situation will not last a long time, but we are sparing no effort and exploring all options.”

The Authors Guild accused the retailer of acting illegally. “Amazon clearly has substantial market power and is abusing that market power to maintain and increase its dominance, which likely violates Section 2 of the Sherman Antitrust Act,” said Jan Constantine, the Guild’s general counsel.

Independent booksellers, meanwhile, announced they could supply Hachette books immediately. The second-largest physical chain, Books-a-Million, advertised 30 percent discounts on select coming Hachette titles. Among the publisher’s imprints are Grand Central Publishing, Orbit and Little, Brown.

Amazon is also flexing its muscles in Germany, delaying deliveries of books from Bonnier. “It appears that Amazon is doing exactly that on the German market which it has been doing on the U.S. market: using its dominant position in the market to blackmail the publishers,” said Alexander Skipis, president of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association.

The association said its antitrust experts were examining whether Amazon’s tactics violated the law. “Of course it is very comfortable for customers to be able to order over the Internet, 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Mr. Skipis said. “But with such an online structure as pursued by Amazon, a book market is being destroyed that has been nurtured over decades and centuries.”..

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/05/2 ... -hachette/
John Francis

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Re: Amazon.com vs. book publishers

Post by IcedNote » Tue May 27, 2014 8:18 pm

Do you mean that B&N online offers better prices than Amazon? Or B&N in stores? Is that with a special membership card or...? Very curious because I buy new books exclusively from Amazon.

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

John F
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Re: Amazon.com vs. book publishers

Post by John F » Tue May 27, 2014 8:43 pm

The membership card is key. It costs $25 a year, gives me a discount of 10% or more, provides free shipping for online orders, and also brings email offers of further discounts (15% and up), sometimes on books of my choice, sometimes their choice.
John Francis

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Re: Amazon.com vs. book publishers

Post by IcedNote » Sun Jun 01, 2014 4:52 pm

John F wrote:The membership card is key. It costs $25 a year, gives me a discount of 10% or more, provides free shipping for online orders, and also brings email offers of further discounts (15% and up), sometimes on books of my choice, sometimes their choice.
Ah, OK. I didn't know that the card came with free shipping! I just let my Amazon Prime membership expire because they're raising the fee again. I'll have to think about the BN deal...

Thanks!

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

Lance
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Re: Amazon.com vs. book publishers

Post by Lance » Mon Jul 28, 2014 8:02 pm

Interestingly, I have not purchased a book from B&N for quite a long time; I let my 10% discount card drop years ago and order nearly everything and have it in two days from Amazon (via Prime service, which was recently raised to $99/year). If you buy a lot from Amazon (not their third parties), you can save a substantial sum of $$$ and have your goods in two days. One can generally save an average of 30% (or more) on new books from Amazon, with no shipping cost added (but tax added of 8%) which I'd have to pay for the local B&N superstore locally. [Their shipping charge is in the $99 one pays for PRIME service.]

I don't see a lot of people spending money at B&N except in the eatery area where people grab books/magazines, and read them freely without putting them back where they got them while they enjoy their coffee/dessert/sandwiches. I do see them looking at books and scanning codes to see where they can buy the item cheaper. I would suspect B&N might go the way of Borders UNLESS antitrust laws hit Amazon. Still, the new book stores I believe are feeling the crunch of Amazon. Ordering on lineis wonderful ... no parking issues, buying gas, fighting traffic, waiting in lines, etc. Likewise for CDs at B&N. They used to have the best selection anywhere around outside of NYC, but now, there's no reason to go for the "Top 100," or whatever. It's nice to buy locally and I do whenever I can on other commodities, but times have changed. People want convenience. I do not that Amazon is also raising prices on newly released CDs. Mega-boxes are especially expensive, sometimes double what you might pay elsewhere.

Amazon also charges New York tax now even though they do not have any warehousing facilities in the state. New York was looking substantial amounts of money from taxes from sales. I believe they were fighting this issue with the state, but have heard nothing recently. People want to save money wherever possible. A friend from Canada once said that if people can afford to buy the merchandise, they should be able to afford the tax. Whaddaya think about that?
Lance G. Hill
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John F
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Re: Amazon.com vs. book publishers

Post by John F » Tue Jul 29, 2014 5:47 am

I have to say that Amazon Prime doesn't seem like such a good $$$ deal to me. It would be different if I bought a lot of CDs and DVDs, which they stock more comprehensively than Barnes & Noble, but I don't. Also, Barnes & Noble is a real bookseller with real bookstores (though their number is shrinking), and I want to help them stay competitive with Amazon which is just a web site and a warehouse.

What I do buy from Amazon is other stuff, such as housewares, a wristwatch and stopwatch, a Kindle, that kind of thing. It beats shopping all over the Internet to save a buck or two, and indeed pounding the pavement from store to store, which my legs and back don't like any more. As for books, I have bought some from Amazon's affiliated sellers, who seem to offer marginally better prices than Barnes & Noble's. As for e-books, I get nearly all those I read from the public library, and have only downloaded a few public domain titles from Amazon for free.
John Francis

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