Monday, January 26, 2009

The Latest on

I haven't taken a swipe at in a while.

Here's the latest from Publishers Weekly: has notified its publisher and author clients that it plans to cease offering e-books in the Microsoft Reader and Adobe e-book formats. In the future, the online retailer says it plans to offer only e-books in the Kindle format (for wireless download to its Kindle reading device) and the Mobipocket format, both of which are owned by Amazon . . .

Amazon did not specify how long the Adobe PDF and Microsoft formats will continue to be available. . . The company said it will now be urging customers to buy e-books through Mobipocket.
This is from a post of mine from last April:
Large publishers are at enormous risk in a digital world. They are no longer the sole owners of the means of production, which means they are no longer the only game in town. And Amazon is very cleverly moving to take over that game.

This whole thing is about Amazon positioning itself vertically, making it the dominant power in the publishing industry.

Vertical integration means owning pieces of all parts of the chain. Amazon started out as a retailer. Then it moved into wholesaling others' products. And finally into manufacturing (BookSurge). Not content to own a part of the manufacturing business, it is now using its retail clout to make its publishing arm more dominant. This is a case where the sum of all parts is worth far more than the individual parts alone.

Amazon now owns pieces of all parts of the chain leading to the consumer:

Manufacturer => Wholesaler => Retailer => Consumer

Vertical integration is about cost and control. Companies who vertically integrate are trying to assert greater control over their business. The obvious benefit is that they can capture the profit margins at each step along the chain. They can also make it harder for competitors if they can gain access to a scarce resource.
Over the weekend, I visited the International Movie Database or here.

I love IMDB. When I can't remember an actor's name or the movie he starred in, but can remember the actress who co-starred with him, I can look her up and back into his name by looking at the names of her movies. I probably visit that site at least once a week. When it was purchased by Amazon ten years ago, I wondered what the future held for the website.

On Saturday, I was looking for information on the original Underworld, which I never saw. To my surprise the entry was blocked by an ad inviting me to enroll in IMDB's new service . . . at only $12.95 per month.

Horrified, I backed out and googled Underworld instead. I found I could pull up the entry that way without encountering that intrusive "invitation" to join Amazon's latest service.

This is EXACTLY why I won't be buying a Kindle and why I haven't purchased a book from Amazon for nearly a year.

Sure, I'm tilting at windmills, but I'll be damned if I'm going to contribute money to a company that is doing its best to take over the publishing industry.


Peter L. Winkler said...

All Movie Guide is better than IMDB and still totally free. I have a link to it on my blog under Recommended Sites.

As for ebooks, there should be a universal, nonproprietary standard. Several years ago, I bought James Ellroy's Breakneck Pace from Amazon in Microsoft Reader format. When I put a new hard drive in my laptop, the ebook was one of the files I backed up, but I didn't bother with Microsoft bReader itself. I figured I'd just download a copy from Microsoft's site.

New hard drive goes in. Files restored. I download and activate MS Reader and try to open Breakneck Pace. No go. I try everything, including some hacker-developed programs for cracking .lit files. No go.

The ebook is lost to me. It wasn't available in a paper edition, and the ebook itself isn't available anymore, even if I wanted to pay a second time.

Maya Reynolds said...

Peter: Thanks for the All Movie Guide referral. I was not aware of it.

And for the mention of your blog!

Maya Reynolds said...

Peter: I've just added you to my list of writer links.



Peter L. Winkler said...

It was very gracious of you to blogroll me. I'll be pleased to return the favor.

Peter L. Winkler said...

My link on your blogroll takes readers to my No More Writing Month blog, which is moribund. Could you change that to my active blog, Precious Cargo? Thanks.

Maya Reynolds said...

Done. Thanks for letting me know I had it wrong. Sorry.

And thanks for returning the courtesy.