Amazon's War Against Book Publishers Goes Into Nuclear Territory

| Fri May 23, 2014 1:54 PM EDT

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?

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