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It’s Amazon vs. The World, Can Amazon Win?

In our globalized economy, does Amazon need the good will of the publishing industry to survive?

By Edward Nawotka, Editor-in-Chief

Amazon-bashing is habitual. And it isn’t just an American pastime. Or a German one. Or a British one. It’s also crossed over to Japan. All this despite the fact that in many markets around the world, Amazon sells a significant amount of print and digital books — often more then indigenous competitors. Consumers cheer when Amazon offers new products or services, from e-books to cloud computing. Publishers, on the other hand, greet Amazon as the ultimate “frenemy.”

In our globalized economy, does Amazon — or any corporation for that matter — really need the good will of the publishing industry to survive? Especially as that company moves even more aggressively into developing its own “product.” And does backlash against Amazon really matter, particularly overseas?

You might think, “hell no.” But if you look at the United States, you might see hints of changes to come. American’s consumers have become over the past half decade increasingly aware of the impact of outsourcing to foreign companies, in everything from care manufacturing to fashion. Slowly consumers have become more conscious of where goods are made and where services are housed (is that call center in India or Indiana?). And the impact is starting to be felt, especially as the global recession has made American-made good more competitively priced to those manufactured overseas.

Could the same happen for online bookselling and e-books? Not in the US, but overseas? Will the consciousness of the British or the French  or the Japanese rise to rebel against “American commercial imperialism” — or do they simply want to point, click, buy and not think of the consequences.

In short, it’s Amazon vs. the World, can the World win?

Let us know what you think in the comments.

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  1. Posted July 12, 2012 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Amazon has a definite first-mover advantage. They were willing to take risks and create the current ebook market. They need content to continue. Publishers will work with them – they need the access. But publishers need to be much more agressive and embrace new models. So it is up to the content owners to start taking chances. Those that do will survive and be rewarded. Those that ‘wait & see’ will die.

  2. Posted July 12, 2012 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    The “trouble” is that Amazon does not only sell books and ebooks but if you are talking about books and ebooks only, then the only hope is for leading publishers to present a united front and support the development of credible alternatives to Amazon, be it online independent bookshops like Books4Spain and by supporting the development, on an arms length basis, of an e-book distribution platform which can compete with Kindle and which independent retailers can easily “plug into” to offer their customers eBooks via wifi etc. Kobo is perhaps best example of the right direction BUT independents and specialist retailers also need access to a platform which enables them to offer ebooks economically – preferably without DRM. Frankly Sony’s attempts to become an ebook retailer is misguided. As far as physical books are concerned, much the same applies, publishers need to consolidate their physical distribution networks and infrastructure to0 offer retailers efficient and cost effective means of fulfilment – yes wholesalers already exist but their margins means that retailers who source books from them find it very difficult to compete with Amazon. Where publishers do have the “correct” infrastruture we can get 55% discount and free shipping versus 35% discount and no free shipping via our wholesaler – this means we can compete with Amazon on price. Publishers also need to be more supportive of independents – whether online or trad bricks and mortar, thought he future is online. If you want to see what Amazon looked like in 1999, i.e. pre ebooks and Kindle and while it was still the new kid on the block read the n”Amazon – Earth’s Biggest Bookstore” Case Study I wrote for the Financial Times here: http://books4spain.com/blog/amazon-com-earths-biggest-bookstore-financial-times-case-study-from-1999/

  3. Posted July 12, 2012 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Now that Amazon customers are having to pay taxes, in Texas and elsewhere, the playing field is becoming more level. That is one step in the right direction.

  4. Posted July 12, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think it is Amazon against the rest of the world. Just yet, at least. They are a powerful force in the industry, both from a distributor and retailer, but now also from a publisher perspective. They are certainly making waves – forcing changes on agencies (no pun intended) where change has been hard to come by. And yes, I think they make mistakes. But change is change, and is most definitely for the better.

  5. Alvin
    Posted July 16, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Outsourcing is what corporations do. It’s in their DNA. They are responsible for either 1) increasing revenue or 2) reducing costs. Outsourcing is part of #2. You can’t expect a company to voluntarily accept higher costs unless there is some commensurate higher revenue associated with it.

    I can’t understand why Americans don’t get this. They may not like it but it’s not Amazon (or Bain Capital) they’ve got a problem with; it’s the structure of the limited-liability corporation. That’s (if anything) what needs to change.

    It would be like criticizing wolves for eating baby bunnies. It seems cruel to us, but that’s what they do.

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