October 18, 2011

REGARDING AMAZON ENTERING THE PUBLISHING BUSINESS, a reader emails: “Amazon isn’t getting rid of publishers, it’s becoming a publisher. This means the group that controls the distribution also controls the content selection. Not exactly a blow for the Army of Davids in my opinion — when all the publishers are gone, who will publish the books critical of Amazon? Bottom line: It’s not getting rid of middlemen, it’s just muscling them out so it’s the only middleman. It does however reveal that in the age of digital publishing, discoverability and promotion on the digital storefront is the only thing that actually matters. The role of publishers in curation is almost totally abrogated to the sellers. When anyone can publish a book, it’s no longer the publishers that are the gating factor to what we read, it’s the digital storefront. It’s a very interesting shift and definitely good news for Amazon and the like.”

That’s a good point. I like Amazon, but if they become a chokepoint that would be bad. Right now their platform is very open to self-publishers and others, but if that were to change it would be a bad thing. There would probably be antitrust issues, too.

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