Franklin Foer of The New Republic has joined the ranks of folks with Amazon Derangement Syndrome; take a look at this article. The best response I’ve seen is this blog post at the Washington Post (now owned, of course, by Jeff Bezos). To Foer’s assertion that big publishers just can’t compete in the face of Amazon’s demands, the author points out the obvious:
They just can’t compete? Why the hell not? They can’t sell their e-books from their own websites? Why is that? Or at barnesandnoble.com? Powells.com? Ebooks.com? The ebook market is, as the antitrust lawyers say, as “contestable” a market as one can imagine, with virtually no barriers to entry. Sell your stuff there, at whatever price you want to sell it at. If you want Amazon to sell your stuff, you have to take their terms. It’s not “exacting tribute”! It’s “business as usual.” If you don’t like it, go elsewhere.
Of course, convincing people that Jeff Bezos is the devil and Amazon is an evil empire is one way of competing; I don’t find it a very compelling approach, though.
As I mentioned in another post, the one time I wanted to buy a Hachette book on Amazon lately, it took me three clicks to find it at Barnes & Noble with a 20% discount. No monopoly here.