news flash: amazon execs say amazon is not necessary

I read an article today called, “Amazon Pulls Thousands of E-Books in Dispute“.

The article is interesting (though not surprising), but the most striking thing is this extraordinary statement: “The only two essential parties in the reading experience, Amazon executives are fond of saying, are the reader and the author. Middlemen like I.P.G. – one of Amazon’s three ‘distributors of the year’ in 2008 – are seen as dinosaurs in this framework.”

You do have to wonder about a corporation which promotes that kind of slogan, a slogan which clearly says that Amazon itself (which is, after all, neither reader nor writer) is unnecessary. What next? Will 20th Century Fox start trying to get people to stay home and listen to the radio?

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5 Responses to news flash: amazon execs say amazon is not necessary

  1. sonje says:

    The comment is odd simply because there DOES need to be someone else: the person who makes the books. Authors are not writing the books, making the books, and distributing the books to the readers. I did read an article somewhere about how this (anonymous) publisher guy thinks that amazon is trying to be the ONLY interface between authors and writers. They’re certainly trying.

  2. It’s interesting because increasingly, with the advent of e-books, this statement is true. And yet, of course, it’s still not true either.

    It’s true because, as a practical matter, an author can write a book, load a book to his/her own website and distribute it directly. There need be no other middleman.

    But in terms of all the rest that goes into books – and especially in terms of mass market distribution – there’s still a role for a middle man.

    But authors and readers both are negatively impacted if there is only one middle man, because that gives the single middle man too much market power. Amazon, as sonje commented above, is trying its hardest to be that one middle man. I don’t begrudge they’re playing a role in the marketplace, but I hope there will continue to be other middle man options for writers and readers…

  3. Sonje: I agree that there needs to be somebody in the middle (even apart from the questions of cover art, editing, and proofing). But I think the Amazon execs are leaving out their own contribution because they take it for granted. Of course Amazon will be there, so we don’t even have to mention it. We’ll see.

    Stephen: The thing I found most interesting in the article — other than what I quoted — was the mention of margins. I’ve been wondering about this. Obviously they’re going all out for market share right now, but all reports indicate that they’re selling the Fire at a loss (if you include development costs, support, and advertising). And, though this is not so generally reported, it’s a piece of junk (I’ll be writing about this in a day or two). It’s already been floated out there that they may switch the Kindle to Epub rather than their proprietary format for cost reasons. If I were B&N, I’d try to hang in. Of course, the advantage Amazon has is that they’re diversified (I’ve bought about five things from them this year, none of them books.) It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

  4. tmarshmallow says:

    The wars of the future will be fought with money.

    He whole controls the data controls the universe. Amazon KNOWS THINGS. So does Twitter. And Facebook. I’m concerned about one of these things becoming sentient.*

    *Not really.

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