Amazon is an amazing company, one to admire even if you disagree with how they treat the book industry. They’ve become the company people love to hate—but it hasn’t hurt their business. They just keep getting bigger and bigger. Now they want you to see them as a smart phone company, as they are about to start selling phones shortly. They also want to become your default wallet, as they take on PayPal with the launch of their own third-party digital payment system. There’s no end to which industry or line of business Amazon not only wants to break into, but just simply break.
How long will it take before the government takes action against the company that wants to sell all things to all people? Amazon is too big not to fail. As much as I fear a world where Amazon continues to treat the planet like Mr. Potter sought to control an entire town in the class movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, I wonder what a post-Amazon book marketplace and consumer landscape would look like.
Even as I wonder how we live with—or without Amazon—they are releasing new products and services. They have taken on Netflix with video streaming and now are challenging Apple with music streaming. Aside from their spat with Hachette over book pricing, they now tussle with Warner Home Video. Amazon refuses to sell movies like The Lego Movie and 300. Is there no end to this?
I simply don’t think Amazon plays by the rules, especially when you look at how it has not been charging sales tax so it can undermine physical retailers, and how it prices books and products at below cost, hoping to use the loss leaders not just to attract business but to put other businesses and entire industries out of business. Its stock is hugely overpriced compared to any standards used to evaluate value, and its increased use of robots to replace workers is troubling. For all that, they are burdensome.
It is further troubling that they treat books and publishing like a commodity, and not a valued art form. But above all else, I fear Amazon because they are so good at what they do and have consumed a lot of power in a lot of industries. They are the biggest threat to capitalism since the Red Scare in the 1950’s.
It doesn’t surprise me that some love Amazon. As a consumer, why wouldn’t you? Low prices, immediate availability, free shipping. There are even some authors and publishers that like Amazon, though they are shortsighted and somewhat clueless when one looks at the big picture. To stop Amazon, and one day they will fall mightily, it will take consumer backlash and industry boycotts.
It remains to be seen when and how these will unfold, but eventually, people will say enough is enough.
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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 email@example.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014
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