Monday, February 1, 2010

Amazon Versus MacMillan

Two wrongs don't make a right. MacMillan wants to sell bestselling e-books for around $15. Amazon thinks this is outrageous and pulls all MacMillan titles from its store, from wish lists, and from Kindle. Authors--especially bestsellers, are outraged.

Fine. What is making this come to a head in such a dramatic manner? The iPad and Apple's deal with five of the Big Six. The publishers are starting to set prices. Why? The don't feel that $10 e-books are sustainable. They envision a future where brick and mortar stores and digital books exist together (In-Peace-and-Harmon-y, sings the voice in my head).

Now I don't own a Kindle. I own a total of 1 e-book (a textbook) that was required for a class and a digital version was all I could find in the rush born of the realization: OMG I need that book by the end of the week! But a full half of my book shopping -- print books, mind, not e-books-- has been conducted on Amazon. increasingly, the selection at the brick and mortar stores has been "not good enough," their breadth of selection in the genres I'm seeking just isn't enough to sustain my interest.

So here is where I am confused. The publishers want to sell the bestsellers at a higher price in order to make certain 1) they have the money to print the versatility and number of books we-the-readership is accustomed to, and 2) keep the brick and mortar stores afloat. But if the age-group under 34 is growing more comfortable with online buying, and our lives are bound to get more hectic as we slip more firmly into the 30's and then 40's...then online buying only stands to increase. From that perspective, the large-scale brick and mortar store --that squeezes as many subjects under a single roof as it can, but fills the sections sparsely by millenial standards-- is already on the decline. If they are proceeding to earn less of my money... and my shopping patterns are typical of my age group...then the publishers are acting too late. Far too late.

Not that Amazon's business tactics are in any way respectable, but they do know what the online-buying community wants. They give it to us. But, yes-- non-Amazon online stores would be very desirable to me. And yes-- the customers should've been given the opportunity to vote with their money.

I think what this may do to Amazon, and also MacMillan, will be interesting to watch.


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