Hachette vs. Amazon, Redux

The casualties in the Hachette vs. Amazon fight are growing, and they are all collateral damage. Amazon may be finding itself in the same position as the Chinese authorities in Hong Kong. Those folks keep mistreating demonstrators, which only encourages more people to protest and to aid and abet those on the front lines.

dgAs Flavorwire reports, more authors have been calling out Amazon for undercutting prices. Malcolm Gladwell’s observations are particularly “insightful” as he does a takedown on Amazon’s complete silence. The title of his latest book couldn’t be more appropriate, except that the Davids are the authors, not Hachette.

If authors’ comments raise alarm, this post from BoingBoing on the issue of audiobooks should terrify readers and writers alike. It seems that Audible, which is owned by Amazon, controls ninety percent of the audio books market and is looking to drive out the rest. Authors who don’t want to accept Amazon’s DRM (that’s digital rights management, which prevents copying, pirating, etc.) won’t have audio books.

But we may not have to abandon hope. Poets&Writers describes an innovative approach to ebooks, though at the moment it’s limited to “exceptional fiction.” The owner of 0s-1s has a noncommercial approach to publishing, meaning he thinks the creators of the content should receive the lion’s share of the proceeds. What a novel idea!

As for Amazon, it is now time for the Justice Department to launch an anti-trust investigation. Yes, I know that the laws governing monopolies are pretty toothless these days. Yes, I also know that Amazon claims the $9.99 ebook and locked-in DRM help the consumer a/k/a reader. But to the extent that Amazon’s marauding discourages writers from producing “content,” everyone will suffer: the reader, the writer, traditional publishers, and Amazon. But Amazon probably won’t care since it’s too busy selling lawnmowers and bean bags.

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