During the past year, I have become convinced that Amazon are furiously intent on reducing the value of ebooks by whatever means at their disposal in an attempt to totally monopolise the ebook industry. At the same time they are taking on the traditional publishers by opening their own New York publishing houses.
The recent uproar about Kindle Library Lending, is a clear sign that Amazon will use both fair means and foul to achieve their goals. Random House, Simon & Schuster, Penguin, HarperCollins, Hachette, and Macmillan – did not signed up for this program, however Amazon ignored this fact and proceeded to include books from these publishers in their lending program.
It is also common knowledge that Amazon are selling some models of their Kindle at less than their cost value to increase market share. This is fine, but to do the same to content that is owned by authors and publishers would seem to border on outright robbery and breach of contract. However, the agreement that almost all publishers accept when listing their content on Amazon is so tilted in Amazon’s favour, it appears Amazon are taking the approach that if you don’t like it, take us to court. This of course is such an expensive avenue to take that very few could possibly afford such action.
There is no doubt in my mind that these recent events clearly indicate Amazon’s intention to completely monopolise the book publishing industry by whatever means it has at their disposal. While this could mean that Amazon suffer a financial loss during this process, it would also seem that they are also prepared to inflict this loss on the entire industry.
While there is no viable competitor to Amazon, their take-over of the industry could well succeed. Any potential competitors come from bricks and mortar business models and history tells us that very few of these businesses have been able to succeed in restructuring themselves to successful online businesses. This bodes badly for potential rivals to Amazon.
Online business that have been successful have all been built on massive client or user bases, acceptance of long term losses as the price for a dominant market share, and extremely low prices that require very high volumes to return a profit. This is something Amazon do well and is exactly why they will do anything possible to reduce ebook prices. They have already been successful in making 99c a standard and have reduced the major publisher’s original expectations for their ebook prices by at least half in a very short time.
Now, by introducing Kindle Library Lending, they are intent on further reducing the value of a book, to almost free.
But what choice do authors and publishers have? If you want to sell ebooks, Kindle is the market right now. Yes, your books will be read, but where will the money come from to put food on your table?