Thursday, January 20, 2011

Vma2on's Effects On The Publishing Industry

NOTE: please make the obvious substitution throughout this post. They will find it, of course, but I'm damned if I'll make it easy for them.

I thought I knew something about this topic, but Onnesha Roychoudhuri of the Boston Review, writing for the Investigative Fund (a project of The Nation Institute) provides chilling detail about the hardball tactics Vma2on allegedly uses with publishers. I am reminded of many of the practices I've heard Wal-Mart uses.

Here's an example: have you ever happened upon a page on Vma2on for a book you want to buy, but find that there is no Buy button on the page? Vma2on allegedly uses removal of the Buy button as a club in its negotiations with publishers who do not go along with its various services and practices.

In other cases, they allegedly "disappear" not just the Buy button but whole pages or catalogs of publishers who don't cave in to deals Vma2on "offers" them. You've heard of "an offer you can't refuse"? Vma2on apparently makes them every day. You can well imagine the impact this has on smaller publishers, as they cope with Vma2on's alleged attempt to leverage a larger discount out of them. That in turn reduces the variety of books ultimately published and available to you, and of course is a sharp stick in the eye of talented young authors attempting to get published.

And did you know that the retail price to you from Vma2on allegedly varies depending on your purchasing history with them?

Google seems to have abandoned its "don't be evil" pledge in the matter of net neutrality. Are these practices going to become the equivalent in the world of online book sales?


  1. Probably. And in the end *everything* -- including our souls -- will be owned by Wal-Mart.

  2. Kay - "I owe my soooouuuul... [grand pause] to the company sto'."

    Are you familiar with humorist/singer/songwriter Dave Lippman? He's on my blogroll. I first met him about 10 years ago just after he had recorded his CD "I Hate Wal-Mart"; he has continued doing mostly political satire since then.

  3. I understand and I loved that song when it came out -- my daddy loved Tennesse Ernie Ford.

    I avoid the Wal-Mart -- and reject the idea that they provide jobs. Most of what they sell is made in China and used to be made here and paid better than Wal-Mart) until we got sold out.

  4. Kay - I agree wholeheartedly, both about Tennessee Ernie Ford and about Wal-Mart. It's been over 15 years since I've even set foot in a Wal-Mart. With luck, I won't have to do so again.



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