Much has been written over the last couple months about the controversy surrounding Amazon's decision to remove its "Buy now" button from POD book listings that don't print from its own BookSurge subsidiary. Long story made short, if you're a POD author, your books can receive preferential treatment if you use Amazon's POD printing subsidiary as opposed to using a competitor such as Lightning Source or any of the dozens of alternatives. POD printer BookLocker even filed suit in May to block prevent Amazon from, we suspect, wielding unfair and anti-competitive powers against its POD printing competitors.
The New York Times in Monday's issue provides an update to the ongoing saga, this time with news about how Amazon is cracking down on publishers in the U.K.
Our take: Amazon is the biggest single threat facing book publishers and book stores today. First, they're going to try to own the indie author POD and digital publishing segment of book publishing, and next I suspect they'll try to recruit mainstream published authors to bypass traditional publishers for future works and do their original publishing through Amazon. With Amazon's Digital Text Platform service, it's already as easy for an indie author to publish on the Amazon Kindle as it is to publish on Smashwords.
Some in the industry have suggested that Amazon should acquire Borders. I don't see that happening. Instead, I think it's only a matter of time before Amazon starts acquiring ailing mainstream print publishers and their catalogs. Amazon would acquire authors and backlists and could then disintermediate multiple members of the book industry supply chain in one fell swoop. To authors, this might at first appear a favorable outcome, considering the current system is broken from the perspective of most authors, and Amazon pays better royalties than its traditional print cousins. However, longer term, reduced choice and monolithic near-monopolistic industry control are seldom good for anyone but the monopoly.