1. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Long but very interesting article on Amazon and publishing

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by chicagoliz, Feb 23, 2014.

  2. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I just read it, it's not that long :) But I'm not quite clear how is Amazon bad for books? I have to admit I use Amazon all the time. And since I started buying books off it, it rekindled my love for reading. I know that if I wasn't for Amazon, I wouldn't have read a fraction of what I read since 2000. I also detest shopping. Going to a boutique with a private dressing room and models modelling the outfits for you, yes please. Weeding through piles of dusty items on the shelves, queuing up for hours, having to visit store after store looking for something, no thanks. So I really love Amazon, you can't always find what you want, especially with quality items, clothes and regular groceries, but everything else is there. It's the ultimate convenience store.
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I'll read through the article and comment on it later, but I just want to say that while Amazon is great for book lovers, used book stores are much better. Some of the gems you find at used book stores you won't find on Amazon.
     
  4. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think their biggest argument is that they're pushing down the price of books by squeezing the publishers, which is doing two things -- devaluing the perceived worth of a book -- that is, keeping prices so low that customers perceive that books are generally only worth $10 or less, and never worth $25 or $35. In turn, this is furthering consolidation in the publishing industry, and driving all of the marketing resources toward only a very few top sellers, so most authors don't make much money at all. Not really any new arguments, but an examination of Amazon's role in it. And, as you say, it points out that Amazon has also been a lifeboat for the publishing industry while simultaneously poisoning it.

    I, too, have mixed and complicated feelings toward amazon. In one sense, I truly love them. They are one of the windows that is ALWAYS open on my computer. I visit amazon multiple times a day. I buy untold numbers of books (and other items). The ease of finding, remembering, and ordering a book has made me buy a far greater number of books than I would have had amazon not existed. (Not to mention the pricing.) Their customer service has been excellent, and as a customer, I can't say that I've ever had any complaints.

    But, I do see how they use their incredible market power, and it is hard to say that they are any better than WalMart, whom I avoid. I've seen articles on how they treat their workers, and the costs of their ability to provide those low prices and fast service. I realize that right now we've actually got it pretty good, as far as amazon's ability to keep prices low, but our simultaneous present experience of having competitors to amazon, and being able to still go to a bookstore and hold a book before we buy it, talk to the booksellers about books, visit with authors, etc. If amazon were to continue unimpeded the way they have been going, we will lose some of that. They're a big component in the de-valuing of authors, even as they serve the consumer and also in other ways provide more opportunities for authors. (And the argument about unedited "dreck" flooding certain parts of the market harms a lot of talented, serious writers, as well.)

    I would argue, though that a similar dynamic exists with respect to any bricks and mortar bookstore. Amazon competes with used bookstores, too, and some of them also sell through amazon, as well. The economics of a used bookstore are different from those of a traditional bookstore, so in some sense, they have an advantage in that generally their cost of acquiring inventory is pretty low, although they obviously have similar concerns in that they still need to pay rent, electricity, employees, etc. I think that the same way that you find some gems in used bookstores is very much the same (although not exactly the same) as the way that you discover gems in a traditional bookstore. I've found many a book by physically stumbling upon it, or having a bookstore employee put it in my hands that I never would have found while browsing amazon.
     
  5. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I see what you mean. However, if we consider Kindle, which is how I get most of my books these days, where the cost to produce is negligible so arguably, more profit should go to the writer, as well as the whole process being kinder to the environment. Transport costs, placement on the shelf, all that is done and dusted. What I suspect is an issue, what's always been an issue, is the constant profit drive. This unfortunately means that someone someone will be exploited, someone will lose out. It used to be the reader (high prices, lack of convenience in buying, reduced choice etc) and now it's the writers. Although, if you sell 20 books in the bookstore and a 100 on line, then the reduced price of each item doesn't necessarily translate to loss. As with economic crisis, it's the middle men who are seeing the biggest drop in income ( I'm hypothesising) and true, jobs will be lost or even become obsolete, but times have changed and perhaps it's inevitable that we change the way we shop. Perhaps bookstores, as the primary avenue, have or are becoming obsolete? That isn't necessarily a bad thing, in the grand scheme of things.
     
  6. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    You missed this
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