Saturday, August 05, 2006

Amazon, ebooks and antitrust

Like a bizarre re-enactment of the hunting of the snark, all the ebooks on Amazon quietly vanished away--and nobody noticed. Or at least google doesn't suggest any great outcry. I guess that puts us ebook writers in our place?

And I quote (from googlecache, amazon.com message now missing): "As of July 12, 2006, Microsoft and Adobe format e-books are no longer available on Amazon.com. As part of our commitment to provide the best customer experience possible, we are now supporting the Mobipocket format. We remain committed to e-books and encourage customers to visit www.mobipocket.com where they can purchase and download tens of thousands of the most popular titles."

And from Amazon support:: "...As part of our commitment to provide the best customer experience possible, we are now supporting the Mobipocket format. We remain committed to e-books and encourage you to visit www.mobipocket.com where you can purchase and download tens of thousands of the most popular titles."

The best customer experience is produced by trashing almost every ebook currently on sale? OMG. All the ebooks gone due to a sweetheart deal with the company (mobipocket) that they just bought--trashing the most publically accepted ebook formats including pdf and html.

Shall I suggest just in what manner I think the "customers" are being "serviced"?

7 comments:

Barrie Abalard said...

So THAT's why I couldn't find my books recently. Drat and a pox upon Amazon! :-(

Barrie
P.S. Thanks for the second email--all ready to go now.

Emily Veinglory said...

Yes, the advance warning was nice, wasn't it? [/sarcasm]

Kis Lee said...

wow. that's big business for ya.

Elizabeth K. Burton said...

Considering Amazon purchased Mobipocket more than a year ago, I was only surprised it's taken them this long to make the switch. As for the other formats, Booksurge, their other last-April acquisition, has been offering PDF and Palm for years, so it's not unlikely those will eventually appear as well.

It isn't like it's hard for a publisher to set up an account at Mobi.

As for the lack of advance notice, the publishers were notified well in advance. If yours chose not to share the information, don't blame Amazon. And Lightning Source, which was the main fulfillment agent for the ebooks on Amazon, also announced the impending severance at least a month before it happened.

Let's be realistic. Amazon is in the business of making money. They made some business decisions that cut rather badly into their bottom line--that $79-for-free-shipping thing, for example. They are going to make more money offering ebooks produced in-house than they would ordering them from Lightning Source, so this is a no-brainer from a business standpoint.

And it's not "big business." It's business, period. Those that don't make sufficient profit don't last long.

Emily Veinglory said...

I understand Amazon is a vendor aiming to make a profit--does this make the creation of internal monopolies a good idea? For *them* sure but there's a reason we are meant to have laws against that sort of thing.

Smaller and self-publishers were *not* given prior notice. Publishers that were notified do not seem to have been told whther their products will ever be re-listed or whether they will be given reasonable access to mobipocket format. If this was really a serious proposition why would they need to have the current gap in service?

Given the lack of official information, the disingenuous posting and removal of information from amazon.com and the downright false information now posted at amazon.co.uk I don't see Amazon's profit motive as any reason for me to happily put up, shut up and hope for the best.

Given that Amazon is a behemoth they can screw people who don't publish or read in mobi-format and putting up and hoping for the best may be more or less comulsory--but shutting up was never something I was good at.

IMHO just because you can't avoid being screwed, doesn't mean you need to bend over and cough. Support you smaller distributors, link to your publishers own poages and places like fictionwise--fight the man! :)

[Right, bring in the next windmill!]

Anonymous said...

Until people talk with their wallets and buy elsewhere, why shouldn't Amazon be the bully? "That's just business..." Yeah. That's what Michael Jackson said when he took the McCartney/Lennon songs like "Revolution" and whored them to Nike.

Just business.

I've been asking my friends not to buy my books from Amazon because I don't like their politics. Now I have an even better reason.

Emily Veinglory said...

I agree, that is where the responsibility lies. If I donb't like the tactics I need to take not only my books, but my dollars, elsewhere.