Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Building Boycott

Jeff Bezos owns but one newspaper and so he cannot control the message to the extent required. With Amazon squeezing Hachette Book Group for more discounts to the benefit of Amazon, the publishing industry is taking note and making noises about a boycott.

Other people are saying unpleasant things, therefore....
Amazon is acting the role of aggrieved party, having taken note of the negative publicity that its standard operating procedure is having. In a forum post on the website, the behemoth wrings its figurative hands and bemoans the lack of cooperation from HBG. Macmillan went quietly, the post declares, and it's such a pity that HBG couldn't do the same.

If you didn't fight the bully, you wouldn't get hurt, now, would you?

HBG is an important supplier, but it isn't the only one. In other words, the publisher is an insignificant player in the mighty Amazon universe, and if they won't come to heel, then it's too bad for them. Amazon doesn't need their paltry offerings. Amazon has all those other publishers, and then there are the countless suppliers of all things not books. Who is Hachette, to try to wage war?

If you are a customer considering boycotting Amazon, you are told to take comfort in the fact that very little of what you buy from Amazon will be affected by their battle tactics in the war on HBG. So you can't pre-order a Hachette book? Do you really need to? You can pre-order something from Macmillan or Knopf or HarperCollins.

Not that Amazon wants to control what you read, however. If you must have that HBG publication, you can always go buy it elsewhere.

If you can find an elsewhere.

Amazon's buying power has largely eliminated competition from small independent booksellers, and its closest competitor Barnes and Noble is struggling to survive.

But please, feel free to shop elsewhere if you can stand to wait for those others to deliver to you.

Go on. Boycott Amazon if you think you can get give up the ease of finding what you want in one place, and getting it into your hands in a timely manner. You aren't used to waiting like you were before Amazon came along. And Amazon knows it.

People outside of the publishing industry don't know much about Amazon's treatment of publishers and what that means for author royalties and the financial ability of a publisher to take a chance on an untested writer. They'll just keep on buying from Amazon because the prices are low and they don't see the link between the growth of Amazon and the decline of their local shopping district and the drop in tax revenue to their local taxing bodies.

Boycott if you like, but Amazon is not budging. It's their business model, and it has worked in the past and shows no sign of not working.

They aren't going to ease up on Hachette because  the other publishers would follow Hachette's lead and then where would Amazon be? Selling books for the same price as the competition, and why would a firm want to lose its competitive edge? Better to lose Hachette, which would have a harder time turning a profit if it couldn't sell through the largest book seller around.

Of course, the British landlords thought their business model was working well when they tried to squeeze their Irish tenant farmers. Until those same farmers refused to do business with them, and there was no one around to harvest the crops that the landlord had to sell to make money. Then the business model stopped working and the farmers won some important concessions.

Still want to hit "Buy"? Or would you rather see if some other vendor has the item you need?

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