The article, written by David Carr, is called Book Publishing's Real Nemesis. It's not too long, and I'm including the link for you to read the full article (highly recommended). But for your skim-browsing pleasure, here are the highlights:
- The Justice Department finally took aim at the monopolistic monolith that threatened to dominate the book industry. So imagine the shock when the bullet whizzed past Amazon. . .and struck five. . . publishers and Apple.
- The (law)suit has its roots in 2007, when Amazon released the Kindle and began selling . . . books at $9.99 . . . to bolster sales of (Kindle).
- As an aside: Why the crumbling book business is worthy of so much attention from Justice while Wall Street skates is a broader question. . .
- . . . pull back a few thousand feet and take a broader look at the interests of consumers. From the very beginning Amazon has used its market power to bully and dictate. . . Amazon uses its scale not only to keep its prices low but its competitors at bay.
- . . . book publishers face an existential threat
- In defense of the agency model: the deal struck with Apple . . . allowed other players into the e-book business, including independent bookstores (that couldn't get in when Amazon had a lock on the $9.99 price). It was only after agency pricing went into effect that Barnes & Noble was able to gain an impressive 27 percent of the e-book market.
- Now Amazon has the Justice Department as an ally to rebuild its monopoly and wipe out other players.
- It is not clear that lower prices are necessarily in the long-term interests of the public at large.
- Scott Turow, a big-time author who is president of the Authors Guild, (says): "It is breathtaking to stand back and look at this and believe that this is in the public interest. The only rationale is e-book prices will go down, for how long? What happens when there is no one left to compete with them?"
With those wise and cautionary words from Turow, who is an attorney as well as a major author, the issue is summed up.
I'll be following this sort-of-bizarre lawsuit as it goes on. I have a feeling it will drag on, but what happens with it will certainly be of interest to us. I would love to hear all your thoughts on this. Do you think there's a silver lining? What is it??? Is self-publishing the best response for a writer? Is going with a major publisher? In either case, how hard is it to keep your head above water?