Tuesday, July 27, 2010

E-xclusivity: The Word on the Bookselling Street

See previous post for current Amazon/Wylie Adventuretime In Books.

At a staff meeting recently at one of the big chain bookstores to which I was privvy, there was a brief but interesting discussion regarding the Amazon/Wylie exclusivity venture. Seems that some booksellers have come to the conclusion that exclusivity for e-book titles is detrimental to the growth of the electronic book model.

Basically, if you can only get these titles at Amazon, why would you purchase an iPad/nook/Kobo/etc. And, if this exclusivity thing gets bigger and say certain authors will only deal with Barnes and Noble, or Google, or Apple, then why on earth would anyone in their right minds by any of these devices? You'd have to buy an iPad to read JK Rowling, or a nook to buy Stephen King, and a Kindle to read Updike.

It gets ridiculous pretty fast. Why buy electronic reader for $100-$600 when, well, there's a perfectly good book already on the shelf?

5 comments:

  1. Which is probably why Amazon wants to do it. They've certainly appeared to want to keep the e-book market cornered.

    It will definitely be interesting to watch all of this play out. In the meantime, I'm plowing my way through all the 'real' books in my basement.

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  2. Amazon is doing anything they can to stay in the game. Though the Kindle is still doing well (and I plan on purchasing one soon), they live in fear of Apple.

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  3. It's an interesting powerplay alright--but remember that you can download the Kindle for PC for free, so maybe it's not so exclusive to these devices.

    The biggest fight I see is the one beyond the devices--simply the one for ebooks. Publishing has been running on such an archeaic (sp?) business model for so long, it's being knocked on its rear by all these e-developments. Watching Amazon's deals, like the one with Konrath and others... I think Amazon is the powerhouse everyone is afraid of.

    But that's just this little writer's opinion. Maybe I should talk to the Amazon people :-)

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  4. It's not necessarily their devices that are exclusive--it's their format. Between the iPad apps and the multiple formats available on other devices (like you can check out e-library books on BN's) there's actually a lot more scope to catch readers in the long run on the other devices.

    But I think what we're seeing here with all the negative reactions/freak outs to the dealings with Amazon is that Amazon has *had* the market for so long. So there's a lot of frustration from publishers and other booksellers that are trying to break into this market. How do you chip away at a powerhouse like that?

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  5. The publishers, e-reader makers, etc may want to go back and take a look at what happened to AT&T and see if they can use any of those methods. I remember when you had to get your phone from AT&T. You had 2 choices: wall or desk. They all were black. Then they brought out the Trimline. That you could get in beige or baby blue.

    There were suits filed by other people who wanted to make and sell phones. And they won. Then you could get all kinds of nifty phones. Mickey Mouse anyone?

    There were anti-trust lawsuits, because AT&T was a big old monopoly, and thus AT&T all but died when the Baby Bells were created. And MCI took them to court over use of their network. How could anyone compete without access to phone lines? And they won.

    But it took years and years.

    Sometimes the market will figure it out--Beta vs VHS or BlueRay vs whatever the other one was. But I think a lot of consumers are like me. They don't want to make the wrong choice. So a lot of us are sitting this one out to see what happens. Maybe several will survive. Maybe none of the players currently out there and some new upstart will figure out how to be all things to all readers.

    The good thing? I don't need one. Not yet anyway.

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