Windows into the Imagination

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Internet Bullying in the Ebook Industry

I've always warned about Amazon's predatory business practices, particularly, if they treat people in the industry like this once they have even a little power or advantage, do we truly think they won't screw the rest of us in time?

Goodreads, a large and very popular book social networking site has decided to end sourcing from Amazon because the online behemoth's terms are becoming increasingly restrictive.

That should ring all kinds of bells because it follows a disturbingly familiar pattern. Make nice with people, while intending to stab them in the back later.

Currently, Goodreads links to many online retailers, thus giving buyers the freedom to use their bookseller of choice. 

"Specifically, Goodreads finds two requirements of Amazon’s API licensing agreement too restrictive. Amazon requires sites that use its API to link that content back to the Amazon site exclusively—so a book page on Goodreads would have to link only to its product page on Amazon, and not to any other source or retailer." 1

Goodread's "goal is to be an open place for all readers to discover and buy books from all retailers, both online and offline.” 2

Amazon is trying to use its clout to interfere with that freedom by blatant manipulation and bullying. For the privilege of linking to their site, you must use them exclusively and screw all the other book sellers you link with, and thus help Amazon to take over even more of the market by pressuring people for exclusivity.

What Amazon is trying to blind people to is the fact that they are getting a huge benefit from people linking to their site. It is FREE publicity, and sales services which sites like Goodreads, which have a huge fanbase, is providing by bringing their customers to use Amazon's online store, is a very valuable service. Amazon is already getting a benefit for doing very little other than provide links, hoping people will bring them customers. Oh yes, the people linking to them get a commission, but it's miniscule compared to the money Amazon gets from those sales. It's chump change, basically a slap in the face, a token amount for the 'privilege' of HELPING Amazon make more money by selling books.

If Amazon wanted to play fair and treat this industry with the respect it deserves, they would compete like everyone else and provide good products and services, not by positioning themselves as the sole online seller. Amazon is already very good at providing an easy to use site and good prices. It's made them a dominant force in this sector of the industry. Why are they using increasingly predatory and viciously offensive tactics when they've already made so much money?

Amazon thinks it has great power now that it's the biggest online retailer and thus they can pressure (read bully) others into accepting its predatory terms. Kudos to Goodreads for standing up to the bully and ditching Amazon. The rest of us should wake up and smell the roses before they change into turds. A bully only has as much power as we give them.

1-2  ,, "As Goodreads Ends Sourcing From Amazon, Users Fear Lost Books", The flagship of the ContentNext Media network, provides global coverage of the business of digital content.


  1. This makes me want to buy less books from Amazon. Though service wise I've always been very satisfied with them. Hmmm. My eyes are on you amazon (I bet they're scared.)