How Book Publishers Can Beat Amazon

Bob Kohn

AMAZON has caused no small controversy of late by refusing to accept presale orders on books to be released by the publisher Hachette and by understocking Hachette’s titles. These punitive maneuvers, which follow a dispute between Amazon and Hachette about e-book contracts, have led to significant delays in shipments of Hachette’s books to Amazon’s customers.

If you are wondering why Amazon would subject its customers to this inconvenience and wish to understand what’s really happening between Amazon and Hachette — and, indeed, all the major book publishers — you need to know the meaning of the word monopsony.

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The question we all need to ask ourselves, honestly, is whether, given what we now know, are we willing to give up the conveniences we’ve grown accustomed to? Amazon has insinuated itself into the lives of tens of millions of Americans, not only by selling new and used books in every category including textbooks, but every product imaginable, including food, and now TV, via its Fire line of products.

Jeff Bezos’ success, it seems, is based in no small part on the bullying of his suppliers and the workforce he employs.


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