Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Is it a mad, bad, Amazon world?

Posted on Petrona on  by

Do you know, I really don’t mind that Amazon is being allowed to acquire the Book Depository* by the UK office of fair trading. Competition is a healthy thing, and it would have been better if the BD could have carried on in business independently. But as it couldn’t, the acquisition is not a bad thing – certainly not the horror some have portrayed it to be. Amazon has been around for a while now and as a reader I have benefitted from its presence immensely. (As have customers using or buying content from Amazon’s other partners, such as the Internet Movie Database, LoveFilm or Audible.)
Similarly, I don’t mind that Amazon is publishing books. As a reader, I can judge an Amazon book just as easily as any other kind of book. Existing publishers may see this as a threat just as booksellers have suffered at the hands of Amazon – through not acting quickly enough themselves to provide the service to their readers that Amazon came along and did instead.
Don’t misunderstand me – I don’t believe in monopolies and I would prefer it that Amazon’s competitors could equal or better its service. But so far, Amazon has done a pretty good job for readers. I might like it to do things a bit differently in some details, eg provide a translated fiction category, or ensure that independently published books are more clearly delineated from self-published books. But these are details. Amazon isn’t just about making vast amounts of money (its recent figures show just how much it has invested in e-readers at the expense of profits), it is about customer service. It has always encouraged customer rankings and comments on its website, long before most sales sites ever dreamed of it – and I, as a reader, also benefit from this, or I can ignore the social side of Amazon if I like, it is up to me. Buying books at Amazon is simple and pleasant, and if the price goes down between ordering and delivery, they drop it to the lower price (how many “street” booksellers would price-match an ordered book in this way? It has never happened to me).
Full story at Petrona.

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