Yesterday the Authors Guild joined in the attack on Amazon for what so many in the industry see as that company's unfair business practices. Mincing no words, the Guild hammered home its main points at the authorsguild.org website:
Useful innovation should of course be rewarded, but we've long had laws in place (limits on the duration and scope of patent protections, antitrust laws, stricter regulation of industries considered natural monopolies) that aim to prevent innovators and others from capturing a market or an industry. There's good reason for this: those who capture a market tend to be a bit rough on other participants in the market. They also tend to stop innovating.[...]
Amazon's reward for developing the wireless e-reader should have been that it would become a significant vendor of e-books and earn a profit commensurate with the value it added to the publishing ecosystem. Whether it would then continue to be a significant e-book vendor should have depended on whether it continued to innovate and provide good service to its customers. Amazon's reward should not have included being able to combine its wireless e-reader, deep pockets, and an existing dominant position in a related, but separate, market -- the online market for physical books -- to prevent other vendors from entering the e-book market.[...]
...through creative use of its capital and ever-growing market power, by compelling publishers to participate in its free book-of-the-month club for Kindle owners, by requiring public libraries to redirect their patrons to Amazon’s commercial website to borrow books for their Kindles, by starting an imprint to compete for authors now published by the largest commercial houses, and, no doubt, by countless uses of its powerful database of consumer behavior, Amazon continues to tighten its grip on the book industry.[...]
...Barnes & Noble is book publishing’s sole remaining substantial firewall. Without it, browsing in a bookstore would become a thing of the past for much of the country, and we would largely lose the most important means for new literary voices to be discovered.
A truly competitive, open market has no indispensable player that can call the shots. The book publishing industry has such a player, and Amazon is poised and by all appearances eager to use its muscle to rip up the remaining physical infrastructure of book retailing and the vital book-browsing ecosystem it supports.In my effort to make clear the Authors Guild's position on the Amazon vs. Other Booksellers war, I have done more quoting than I like to do. Please click on the link at the beginning of this post so that you can read the whole thing on the Authors Guild website. This is getting serious. If Amazon keeps growing its market share at the pace it is growing now, we will ultimately be faced with higher book prices, fewer choices, and few bookstores left to put our hands on books before they arrive in the mail - if there are still physical books to mail, that is. I, for one, am horrified by the thought of a book world dominated by e-books.
I collect books, not bytes.