This weekend, in apparent [put your own word here: retribution, protest, ninny-fit] Amazon.com removed all Macmillan published books from their site, apparently in response to Macmillan’s desire to re-negotiate pricing and their signing on with Apple’s iBook store. There’s lots of opinions flying about, and will continue being an interesting read. I’m still getting up to speed, but I do have three comments.
First, a lot of Amazon users were surprised when Macmillan books (which includes all Tor science fiction and fantasy lines) disappeared from “their” Amazon wishlists. This is an excellent opportunity to make the point I regularly remind my kids of. Data that we put up on sites like Amazon, and Facebook, MySpace, etc. for that matter, do not really “belong” to us. Oh, it’s our thoughts, text, photos, etc. but most of the service agreements we agree to, implicitly or explicitly do not grant the user much in terms of rights. Your data in the cloud is a subjective thing, and subject to the whim of the cloud service. I put data in the cloud, but I also make sure I keep my own copies of it.
Second, this whole thing with Amazon began about a week back when they announced new Kindle APIs, and payment arrangements. It’s all pretty obvious they are responding to the coming iPad. To Jeff Bezos, Apple’s/Job’s interest in this market must feel like the Eye of Sauron turning in his direction (No, I’m not saying Jobs is Sauron. It’s just a metaphor). Ultimately, I think the competition will mean the consumer will be better off.
Last, Amazon’s hi-jinks, if indeed they aren’t a technical burp as has happened in the past, won’t really hurt Amazon as John Scalzi pointed out. Really, it probably won’t hurt Macmillan on the whole. What it does hurt are the authors who create the content to start with, and whose drop in sales over this weekend (or longer) cut much closer to the bottom line. Of course, you can always hit Barnes and Nobles instead.
We live in interesting times. The whole media landscape is shifting before our eyes. Will our grandkids look back and say we blew it or got it?