2.11.2006

First books, then music, then the world

There's so much hubbub about Google and Amazon these days in their attempts to gather up media. From a publishing perspective, Google's book Search Program and Amazon's Upgrade program seems to be stuck as publishers and authors debate the merits and profits of these services. The Financial Times reported yesterday that Amazon and Google (not sure why they’re lumped in the article since they basically deny it) are also courting the music industry for digital downloads.

This should cause 2 big worries for publishing.
1) This is a chance for mid-sized and small trade publishers to get some attention from these juggernauts and if the book industry becomes too difficult with their demands, we will be left in the dust. According to the article the music industry is very excited to work with Amazon to provide digital content and break the monopoly held by Apple (sorry Napster and emusic). Can the same be said about publishing? Here's our chance to start working with an online retailer on creating a large audience for electronic books. If we play too hard to get Amazon can always refocus on digital distribution of music, movies, and other media- everything that currently competes with books for customer's time and attention.
2) If Amazon's focus is to move away from sending physical stuff out to its customers and the book industry remains stuck on paper, we might find ourselves increasingly pressed to offer better terms and discounts as Amazon is able to cut their shipping costs with other media.

I'm sure there's other aspects to Amazon's latest bid to go digital and we will hear more about it in the coming weeks.

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