Rupes Weighs In
But now Rupert Murdoch has weighed in, suggesting to Amazon that it is, in fact, time to renegotiate his deal on ebooks. And since Murdoch (or "Rupes," as we-who-are-his-slaves fondly refer to him) owns HarperCollins, which has several of my books in print--- I am no longer a dispassionate observer. If Amazon decides to de-friend Harper in the same way it de-friended Macmillan, my lovely Praxis books will shift in category from "mid-list science fiction" to "hostage."
For what Rupes and Macmillan are asking Amazon to do is change their entire business model. Amazon's long-standing policy was to exchange profits for market share--- they would sell books at a loss, in hopes that it would drive competitors out of business. Their plan involved nothing less than crushing every independent bookstore in North America, then taking over their market share. (Which is the same plan as that used by Barnes & Noble and Borders, by the way.)
Macmillan asked itself the question, "Is it in our interests to see independent bookstores wiped out and Amazon to have such a huge market share?", and came to the obvious conclusion. A year's negotiation proved fruitless, and the war was on.
Amazon's position re the Kindle has always been based on a kind of bluff: they acted as if they had a monopoly on e-readers, and they negotiated from this stance, but of course it wasn't true. There were the Sony Reader and others. But when the iPad appeared, that shattered the illusion. I don't think it's a coincidence that this feud went public the same week the iPad was released.
But anyway, I now have a dog in the fight--- well not a dog really, but a weeny, sickly little puppy trying to snarl with its cute little milk teeth. And the puppy is tied to a stake on the middle of a colosseum in which giant fighting robots are running around firing rockets, machine-gun bullets, and tactical nuclear weapons at each other. And just sort of hoping for the best, because that's all it can do.