Amazon's War Against Book Publishers Goes Into Nuclear Territory

Amazon.com, the company run by the psychopathically competitive Jeff Bezos, is apparently upping the ante into nuclear territory in its contractual dispute with book publisher Hachette:

The retailer began refusing orders late Thursday for coming Hachette books, including J.K. Rowling’s new novel. The paperback edition of Brad Stone’s “The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon” — a book Amazon disliked so much it denounced it — is suddenly listed as “unavailable.”

In some cases, even the pages promoting the books have disappeared. Anne Rivers Siddons’s new novel, “The Girls of August,” coming in July, no longer has a page for the physical book or even the Kindle edition. Only the audio edition is still being sold (for more than $60). Otherwise it is as if it did not exist.

Well, at least this is a war between equals. That makes it a little easier to stomach than Amazon's routine attempts to strong-arm boutique publishers after sweet talking them into making Amazon such a big part of their business that they can no longer survive without them.

But it's also why I'm so unhappy over the inevitable demise of Barnes & Noble. It seems inevitable, anyway, and when it happens Amazon will be essentially the only source left for e-books. At that point, Amazon will no longer have any real incentive to improve its crappy e-reader, but we'll all be stuck with it anyway. Yuck. I don't have a ton of choices even now, but at least I have some.

I dunno. Is there some way for the Justice Department to demand that Amazon figure out a way to make its DRM accessible by third parties so that we can have a thriving market in e-readers? I don't really understand the tech well enough to know whether that's possible. But Amazon already has near-monopoly control of the e-book market, and if B&N does eventually die, Amazon will basically have total control. Isn't that supposed to be a bad thing?