Sunday, January 31, 2010

Amazon blinks, whines, says it will have to "capitulate" to Macmillan

Engadget has reported that Amazon released a statement today saying that it would have to "capitulate" to Macmillan's terms for pricing eBooks, and admitted that it removed Macmillan's print books from its website to punish the publisher. The funniest line in Amazon's statement is this one: "...we will have to capitulate and accept Macmillan's terms because Macmillian has a monopoly over their own titles...". That's like saying that Ford has a monopoly over its cars, or Kraft has a monopoly in Velveeta.

On the other hand, Amazon has a monopoly over the Kindle format. It won't license the format or its DRM system to any other manufacturer or software vendor. Unlike EPUB, PDF and other formats, the Kindle format is proprietary. Also, Amazon believes that it and it alone has the right to determine what the "reasonable" price for eBooks should be. Unilaterally removing all the titles, both print and electronic, from one of the top publishers to punish it for trying to have some control over the price of its eBooks sounds like the actions of a monopolist. Is the pot calling the kettle black, or is what we're hearing the sound of a glass house shattering?
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