On Wednesday, January 27, in Washington, the New America think tank plans an open discussion on “Amazon’s Book Monopoly : A Threat to Freedom of Expression?” with author Scott Turow and Smashwords founder Mark Coker,” among others. New America says it is “committed to the solution of public problems” and clearly for many authors, Amazon is Public Enemy #1.
In 2014, Authors United and others began to urge the US Department of Justice to bring an anti-trust action against the giant the e-retailer. They argue Amazon’s dominant market position lends it a dangerous influence on who and what could be published and read. Andrew Albanese, Publishers Weekly senior writer, is happy to hear that leading authors and their supporters are ready to now talk about Amazon in the open.
“The one subject people in publishing assiduously avoid talking publicly about is Amazon,” says Albanese. “To me, the gripes about Amazon’s dealings with the Big Five publishers aren’t very interesting, because – let’s be clear – even though several publishers were sued for price-fixing, they got what they wanted for e-books: agency pricing is now in effect. Effectively, they control digital pricing.
“Where Amazon’s biggest threat lies, and where its most anti-competitive actions are occurring, is in the self-publishing market,” he tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally “The contracts for content are terrible, restrictive deals, and they are non-negotiable—you want in on Amazon’s platform, you click yes, and you don’t quibble.”
Every Friday, CCC’s “Beyond the Book” speaks with the editors and reporters of “Publishers Weekly” for an early look at the news that publishers, editors, authors, agents and librarians will be talking about when they return to work on Monday.