Book publishers' latest hobby? Complaining about the Amazon Kindle's success


We’re starting to see more and more “hate” being thrown Amazon’s way. That’s because, of course, the Kindle is something of a success, and publishers, who already operate a pretty wonky business (more on that in a bit), are becoming concerned that Amazon will soon be able to wield the same kind of power that Apple did over the music industry. Basically, book publishers don’t want Amazon to “own” the digital book market.

This isn’t a new complaint; I could have sworn I heard similar complaints only a few days. But the fact that we’re continually seeing these complains must mean that Something is Up.

It’s simple: book publishers don’t want Amazon’s Kindle to become synonymous with electronic books. If that happens, just like how iPod/iTunes became synonymous with music downloads, they’ll have zero power to tell Jeff Bezos, “Yeah, we don’t want to sell you digital copies of our books for $12 anymore.” Bezos can turn around and say, “Oh, really, you don’t? Well, have fun selling digital copies of your books then. We’ll be here if you change your mind.”

Said the executive director of the Authors Guild (yes, that Authors Guild):

The industry as a whole is a bit nervous about the Kindle and the possibility that Amazon will really lock up the e-book market. The early path it’s taken here could really determine a lot about where the industry winds up and where people get their e-books in the future.

This is echoed by an exec at Hachette Book Group:

We don’t want it to be where you can only get your book in one spot. We want what every publisher wants and what every author wants, which is ubiquity.

Now, this is the same book industry that charges $20-$30 for a brand new book but only makes an average of 26 cents of profit per. Going with the completely-made-up idea that “no one” reads anymore, seems to me the book industry, if it’s in such dire straits, might as well charge $5 to $10 more per new book. If reading is a hobby, and people are prepared to spend money on their hobby, how much harm could be done by taking a few more dollars per book?

In any event, that price cut is making me look long and hard at the Kindle. I’ve love to read that new David Beckham book as soon as it hits the Kindle servers. Too bad I have no money to speak of. Glamorous!