Is Amazon Too Powerful?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

Some feel Amazon’s growing power and influence threatens to create a hegemony.

By Edward Nawotka

Amazon Kindle

I want to make a confession: I have an Amazon Prime account and I use it…a lot. I have a small child at home, limited time to shop, and a fast Internet connection. Amazon, in our household, has become synonymous with shopping.

Though I have a variety of e-readers in the house — a Kindle, a Nook, an iPad, several smart phones — I still tend to default to buying a majority of my e-books on Amazon, largely because I can transfer the books to all these various devices with ease. The Kindle just…works (Well, it works for books, at least. My digital magazine and newspaper subscriptions are with B&N and Zinio. And that said, B&N/Borders/my local indie — and any indie in any town I travel to — also get an awful lot of business from me. I do buy a lot of books).

I fear, even if Amazon begins to charge tax on its sales, I fear my “one click” purchases will run on unabated due to muscle memory.

As we all know by now, authors are also working more closely with Amazon. Some use the company for distribution, some publish their books with them, and some have, like Seth Godin, launched companies “powered” by Amazon. Amazon’s proprietary publishing program is producing several interesting titles and has attracted some good personnel. The even has gone further than any other book retailer in supporting literary organizations around the country with grants.

None of these things are negatives. And yet there’s a lingering suspicion within the publishing industry that Amazon is becoming too powerful. It is difficult, if not impossible to quantify — what is too much market share? — but we’d like to know your opinion.

Does Amazon’s growing power and influence in the publishing business — both on the retail and production side — threaten to create a hegemony? And in a capitalist society, one with free markets, how will its influence be kept in check?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.