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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Disney Dispute Shows We Need Everyone Against Amazon


Amazon: America’s favorite mall and publishing’s favorite target.  It’s becoming clear, however, that Amazon is an even uglier threat than first perceived.

Take a look at its latest public dispute with a content provider – Disney.  Who can argue with the people who give us Mickey Mouse and Goofy (my favorite character)?

In a vendor dispute similar to what it had with Warner Bros and now Hachette Books, Amazon immediately resorted to bully tactics.  It ceased taking pre-orders for DVDs and Blu-Ray discs of Disney movies.  Consumers who want to order them should go to a competitor, such as Best Buy, Wal-Mart, or Barnes & Noble.

Why is every dispute treated the same by Amazon – and how come none of the vendors are the ones pulling their products out?  See a pattern here?

How did we get to this point in time?  Well, first other competitors got knocked off, in part, because of Amazon’s predatory business operations.  Tower Records, Borders, and Virgin Megastores are all gone.  So is Blockbusters.  See what happens once Amazon underpriced the competition? It now uses its power first to beat up on content providers and then eventually it will turn on consumers.

The Disney dispute is particularly disturbing because it’s been revealed that the sticking point in their negotiations – according to The Wall Street Journal – is over the very tactic Amazon uses to win market share but kills competition and leads to less money for creative artists.  They need to be stopped.

Here’s the issue.  Brick and mortar retailers like Best Buy and Wal-Mart may charge below-wholesale prices on a Disney DVD and take a loss just so it can get people in the store and hopefully buy other things of high-profit value.  Amazon does the same thing.  Now Amazon wants to be able to match or exceed their competitors’ lowest prices – but wants the content creator (Disney, Penguin-Random House, etc.) to make up the loss.

What nerve! They want publishers to participate in their own demise.

Amazon, when it charges low prices, not only hurts the sustaining of a fair marketplace, it hurts the ability of the content creator to earn a living.  Consumers come to commoditize content and resist paying more without distinguishing value.

On top of that, if creative folks are now going to be asked to give up some of their already decreased earnings so that Amazon can cut prices, it will force others to cut prices and further injure authors and entertainment artists.  It’s a bad cycle and the trend needs to be reversed. 

There is a ton of competing content floating out there.  Not all of it will find a home.  Not every author or singer can top the sales charts.  The marketplace for creative content is fierce, but very much alive.  However, if we allow Amazon to continually erode consumer confidence in the value of this content – and then help pay Amazon for their dishonorable practices – we will see a content depression. 

So what shall we do?

Consumers should not get addicted to Amazon.  Spread the wealth.  Buy from brick and mortar stores.  Shop at other online venues.  Don’t let Amazon take you – or the content providers – for granted.  Amazon could turn out to be worse than any restrictive government that people naturally fear.  We are giving up too much control of our lives to a handful of service providers – Google, Facebook, Amazon, Wal-Mart, Apple, and Verizon – risking an addiction to each one to the point we won’t know how – nor have the option to – live without them.


Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014

2 comments:

  1. I think this is a very astute view of the current market, and it is very hard to resist (and very lazy not to).
    James

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  2. I think the argument over e-book pricing involves something that seems to have been missed. With a myriad of entertainments available to potential readers perhaps printed books along with other print media (newspapers and magazines) will someday vanish unless readership is courted. Low cost e-books seem to me to be the best alternative if we are to maintain any reasonable level of literacy in our population. As a storyteller with only three novels published I'd be happy to lower the cost of those e-books to under a dollar if Amazon and others would maintain the percentage that authors, writers and storytellers get at the $2.99 and above pricing of 75% instead of dropping it down to only 35% as is current practice at Amazon. Printed books will always be more costly that e-books but, in my opinion, we will have a better chance of attracting potential readers if e-books are provided at the cheapest level possible.

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