Amazon — Bully of the Boardwalk?

Big Red Car here. Going to be a warm one here in the ATX but then today is the second day of June, isn’t it? It is summer in the ATX and summer means warm.

So the Big Red Car is concerned about Amazon and its latest dustup with the publishing industry.

This is NOT Jeff Bezos, head of Amazon, though many think it may be him given recent behavior.


Amazon is often accused of being a bully and in its latest dust up with the publishing industry perhaps it is.

Amazon is an incredible–INCREDIBLE–commercial force though as a company it has yet to turn a profit.

It has a current market cap of approximately $144 billion and, again, no profits yet. Wow!

Because of its size and power, it has commoditized many products and entire industries. The world’s retailers have become its showroom as they showcase products only to have consumers buy the product on Amazon.

The Boss does this all the time. He goes to Best Buy to look at stuff and buys it on Amazon often at a better price but always with the convenience of home delivery and the protection of Amazon’s typically vastly superior return and satisfaction policies. Maybe The Boss is a punk for doing this. Maybe not? In any event, he does it all the time.


Publishing is an industry that is not only being disrupted but being shattered. The “traditional” manner in which books come to market is under a vicious attack and is changing daily.

The traditional continuum of:

1. manuscript;
2. editing (development edit, line edit, proofread);
3. book cover design;
4. book interior design;
5. print specs;
6. printing;
7. distribution;
8. marketing; and,
9. fulfillment

has been turned on its ear by eBooks and self-publishing. Even traditional booksellers are in competition with themselves with their own eBook and self-publishing brands.

The conflict

Amazon is locked in mortal conflict with one particular publisher, Hatchette, on what can only be considered as principles of pricing in a new economy of publishing.

You can read about it here — Hachette Chief Leads Book Publishers in Amazon Fight

The real conflict has to do with tactics wherein Amazon is accused of:

1. delaying shipment of Hachette titles;

2. encouraging Hachette authors to find other publishers for their books thereby putting leverage on Hachette to “compromise” with Amazon; and,

3. generally wrecking Hachette’s business as leverage to conclude the negotiations in a manner favorable to Amazon’s interests.

These are allegations, mind you, and the truth of it all may be a bit different. In any event, this smacks of a bit of rough play by the Amazon team. Bare knuckles, sharp elbows and Mafia like behavior? You decide.

Who really gets hurt?

In this controversy, who really gets hurt, Big Red Car?

The publishers? The authors? The public?

One can certainly construct an argument that publishing is so Old School that it needs a bit of disruption and maybe the commoditization of books is overdue like a library book?

The authors, in the short term, are really being hurt as over 40% of all books are now sold on Amazon. Big clout with Hachette authors who are allegedly being encouraged to find a new publisher. Hachette publishes about 1,000 titles per year.

The authors have a legitimate beef, in the eyes of the Big Red Car, as they have sold literally millions of books on Amazon thereby making Amazon some very nice profits. Is this any way to treat a good partnership? Hurt your supplier of product? Or is is a necessary element of “tough love” intended only to effect a change which cannot come to reality in any other way? Again, you decide.

Bottom line — Amazon is playing hard ball. Is it justified? You decide.

But, hey, what do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car. Get off to a great start this week and roll hard.