Sunday, July 6, 2014

(Books) Amazon v Hatchette: A battle in a war already won

Being no real fan of the major publishers and the long held vice grip they've had over the sale and distribution of books, It has to be said that Amazon dealings with major publishers has been nothing short of mafia like. Knowing full well they have whip hand over the "big five" (or six depending on who you ask), Amazon have brazenly showed their disdain for publishers as much most big retailers have shown to their main suppliers however, other big retailers have been wise enough not to show their brutal tactics so publicly.

But this is nothing new as Silicon Valley titans such as Amazon have, especially in the last fifteen years, been using the same playbook of changing a market or industry in order to control it. The best example of this would be Apple's iTunes marketplace and music industry. YouTube of late has come into criticism for it strong-arm tactics against indie labels by forcing them into contracts that put them at a major disadvantage vis a vis its major label counterparts.

The same tend has taken hold in over markets but it has been most telling in the creative arts as the creative industries has been taken one blow too many for decades. Amazon knows full well its won the war against the major publishers and is fully aware that all the guff offered by the big publisher are no more than yelps of pain and confusion as big publishers such as Hatchette can only count on public opinion which maybe in some way negative against Amazon but not strong enough to affect their bottom line.

Another sign that Amazon has already won the war is its success in splitting the most important stakeholder in the publishing industry save the readers, authors. 

In every industry on planet earth from pharmaceuticals to apps, someone has to get screwed in order for the said industry to thrive. In boxing, its almost always the boxers or the fans, in movies, it's almost always the writers, in banking, it's just about everybody below executive level. In publishing, it almost always been the authors and the authors only as big publishers have paid small advances for literary classics that have made them rich beyond measure for centuries. However, screwing authors is getting harder to do in a market where authors, after centuries of double penetration, realize they don't really need publishers.  

Amazon has worked hard to make itself the ally of the author, established or newbie, by offering direct access to their vast market for a cut of the proceeds. This latest skirmish with a major publisher has shown just how successful Amazon has been in placing itself as the refuge of disgruntled and frustrated writers chewed and spat out by big publishers and new aspiring writers looking to bypass the big machine publishing houses and get their work out there.

In sum, Amazon, unless a regulatory body steps in, can't lose and won't lose as they have already won.


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