And this is how it’s done:
1) Destroy an eco-system.
2) Replace it with near-slavery.
3) Make billions.
4) Don’t pay taxes.
I don’t think so.
Most companies building profitable ecosystems in the digital world are making their profits elsewhere using the digital media as a loss leader… Amazon could have had a margin of zero and still made money…
This is a very interesting essay about Amazon and its business model. The only thing that could destroy Amazon is Amazon itself.
The Bezos business model is so incredibly destructive for the publishing industry that I frankly don’t see him as a problem in the long run, in any possible scenario.
He’s not comparable to Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart is in it for the very long term. They want to be The Shop, forever, for the entire world.
He’s doing essentially the same thing as company towns in resource-based industries. They go to a region, exploit its natural resources to the hilt, and then leave the area completely. The company town becomes a ghost town next to a slag heap, and the owners end up with fortunes.
Once he’ll have sucked publishing dry, once the big names are totally dead or have left to concentrate on other media, once there is nothing left but reprints and small indie publishers with tiny profit margins he’ll close down the book section and concentrate on more profitable things like selling electronics. One day, years after he’s shuttered the bookstore, the small indie publishers will grow, some of them will merge, and a better publishing industry will arise. But in the meantime there will be no big English language publishing industry. It will have been gutted.
Anything that touches internet becomes free, right?
In the near future we’ll hopefully get a free online access to all the books ever published in English language.
Good. I have no problem with that.
The problem was never not having enough good books to read. The problem always was and always will be that in a lifetime one can only read a very small fraction of these. A tiny, nearly insignificant number.
Tim Carmody writes about Amazon negotiating with major publishers for the price of their backlists.
Let’s assume that Amazon convinced one or more major publishers, or a handful of mid-level ones, to sign on with this plan. One of two things could happen:
1) The service doesn’t get traction with customers, for whatever reason — bad implementation, the catalog is too small/big or poor-quality, readers would rather own than rent — and it crashes and burns. The publisher just went through a ton of work to pore over its giant catalogs, digitize more back content, figure out author compensation for this weird new thing. And now they look like idiots.
2) The service is a smash hit. A big free catalog of books helps Amazon sell its next generation of tablets and e-readers faster than Foxconn can make them. Book clubs are binging on your back catalog and your content has more visibility and relevance than ever. A year into the deal, Random House CEO Markus Dohle (or whoever) is on stage with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. They clasp hands, and raise them over their heads to thunderous applause. As Dohle’s smile widens and flashbulbs pop, only one thought is on his mind, which he fights to keep off his lips: “I should have asked for a lot more money.”
It seems that Amazon has decided to push the limits of what we understand as a library. No wonder publishers are perplexed.
I keep thinking about this picture ever since I first saw it.
It was taken at a closing-down Borders store in Chicago. I believe the true subject of the sign, which may well have been unintended, reaches far beyond this short and humorous comment.
It really depends on how you read it. It might be the work of a young, devoted, innocent anger. Like my own, only a bit younger. It might be pointing their last customers towards the closest functional restroom facilities. According to one Boing Boing comment, Google Street View shows that a thematic restaurant, named Amazon, is just around the corner.
Sadly, those comments can no longer be seen, and a Google search for “closing+borders+sign” doesn’t return many interesting reads. One mostly learns about convenience and price advantages on the one side, and bad management on the other. And toilets, of course. But somehow, I really doubt this is about toilets.
To me there’s something in this picture. Some kind of logical error. Something that, like an arrow, points into a direction yet unknown to me. Into a direction I might not be skilled enough to think about.
It asks. It poses a question. Like all good art (and that is how I understand the above sign), it poses a valid question. It relates our reality to the realm of the unreal yet possible.
It reminds me of Joseph Kosuth’s One and Three Chairs:
In my view, they both explore different levels of reality.
Maybe it points towards a future in which styrofoam eventually replaces stone.
Maybe it is about the difference between neighborhood and network.
Maybe it points toward Singularity in which digital restrooms replace the real ones, and we never ever have to worry about our real neighbors, our real needs, our real relationships. Red or blue pill?
Of course, maybe it is all just my imagination. You see, I find it hard to think about possible futures and not to think of George Orwell – one retailer, one publisher, one customer database.
I prefer diversity. I like to be able to choose where to get my cup of coffee. I prefer diversity buying croissants, zucchinis, books or shoes.
I believe we should continue to develop, cultivate and think about our networks. But we must not ignore the danger of them smoothing the way towards an overwhelming power to but a few strongholds.
I think our networks should not endanger our neighborhoods. They are here to enhance and improve our lives. To widen the realm of possible, not to narrow it.