Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Shame on You, Amazon.com

Up until recently, like last week, I was a huge fan of Amazon.com. I've been shopping there for years. Literally. I don't know exactly how long (well, I could figure that out if I wasn't too lazy to open Quicken) but it was back when most people were still afraid to enter their credit card number into a computer.

I am, or rather was what one could call and Amazon.com fanboy. I've bought all kinds of crazy stuff there. Everything from toothbrushes to comics, and hard drives to electric mixers. I loved most everything about Amazon.com. I loved the product reviews (which have never steered me wrong), the fact that they always had a copy of the book I wanted on their virtual shelf, and the fact that I could do all my shopping while in my pajamas, scratching my – never mind.

I fell even more in love with Amazon.com when they went toe to toe with Apple iTunes and began to sell DRM free MP3’s. I was ecstatic. I knew that Amazon.com wasn't being entirely altruistic, but it felt good to be able to buy music legitimately, and electronically, the way I wanted. And it didn't hurt that by doing so I was sticking it to the music companies that were forcing DRM done all our throats (and making a market for pirated music that hurt both themselves and the artists they presumably were acting in the best interests of).

Fast forward to this last weekend. I won't go into all the gory details, because it's been blogged about incessantly, but here's my summary in Shawn Speak. Amazon.com has somewhere around a 70% market share in the electronic book market. They were selling e-books at the unsustainable price of $9.99, taking a loss on every purchase in order to subsidize the Kindle.  (Let me point out that Amazon.com's e-books are chock full of DRM – irony anyone?).  Publishers didn't like the $9.99 price, but given the fact that Amazon.com had no real competition, there wasn't anything they could do about it.  Enter the Apple iPad. Real competition. MacMillan publishing went to Amazon.com and wanted to renegotiate the $9.99 price. Amazon.com said “frak off” and pulled all of MacMillan’s books from their store.

If I were a published author, and if I was published underneath one of MacMillan's many labels, I would be pissed as hell. Actually, I would have been pissed before that because I wouldn't want my book being distributed with DRM, but that's another story.

I'm not published, yet, but I'm still pissed. I feel betrayed. Maybe it's silly, but I always thought of Amazon.com as a “good” company. They didn't have a “don't be evil” motto like Google, but then I never saw them do anything bad either. Until now.

So shame on you, Amazon.com.

And shame on me, for thinking you were anything more than another evil megacorp.


Jon said...

I hear ha'. I felt extra guilty because, just when this was of all going down, a box of stuff arrived for me. I felt like such a collaborator.

I like how Macmillian came out looking good, not too mention professional, especially when measured against Amazon's message board response.

Are you going to use them anymore? I was thinking of switching to Barnes and Noble.

Lisa said...

I've used Powell's for my book buying needs. They've got a real brick and mortar business in addition to the nice buy-over-the-internet convenience for those of us who don't live on the west coast. But I'm pretty sure they don't sell toothbrushes or mixers...

Amazon does have a history of pulling books from their list. A con session I went to a couple years ago described their doing so to small publishers before. That's what convinced me to join the ranks of the independents.