What Happens When Amazon Is the Last One Standing?

We’ve heard speculation and criticism for years about how Amazon is ruining the book selling and publishing industries, along with affirmations that Amazon has done more for the business of books than anyone since Gutenberg. But what will the industry look like when Amazon is the last player in the industry, when the dire warnings go unheeded and there are no more booksellers or publishers?

Before Amazon emerged, there were six major publishing houses, each with several imprints; Amazon indirectly had a significant impact on their finances through the ebook price fixing investigation that resulted in settlements in the hundreds of millions of dollars from the publishers alone. As for bookselling, Amazon’s original purpose in life, the industry has already seen the loss of the Borders chain, the life support efforts of Barnes and Noble, the closing of the Sony Reader store 9US), and a significant drop in promotional efforts in the US from Kobo.

Are companies throwing up their hands in defeat because they cannot compete with Amazon’s herculean efforts? Or are they more accurately signifying that Amazon simply does it better, and therefore consumers shouldn’t bother finding an alternative?

In a post for Dear Author, Jane Litte provided an in-depth look at some of the numbers involved in being–and competing against–Amazon. The end result, according to Litte, is going to be a reduction in discoverability for titles and a reduction in profits for authors when there are no other options for bookselling.

We’ve been asking the question for years: what will it take to bring down Amazon? For the time being, it seems like no one has the answer, and no one is looking for it.

Mercy Pilkington (1982 Posts)

is a Senior Editor for Good e-Reader. She is also the CEO and founder of a hybrid publishing and consulting company.

  • Albert

    On what do you base the claim no one is looking for an answer?

  • http://www.techleo.es techleo

    What I find hypocritical is that some of those who condemn Amazon would love to be this company (in more than one sense).

    Anyway, great competitors are essential.

  • Mercy Pilkington

    Simply on the fact that companies are closing up shop in the US while critics have been moaning for five years about the harm Amazon stands to do. At the same time, I have personally sat down in person with executives from some of Amazon’s competitors and told them some very simple solutions, both from my perspective as a journalist and as a published author. They nodded and agreed, and then did nothing to help themselves.

  • Mercy Pilkington

    I completely agree. I am actually a huge supporter of Amazon and the work that they do. I’m one of those “rural” community dwellers mentioned in my article yesterday who relies on Amazon to provide books and several other necessary markets.

  • Claude Champagne

    As I said before, a free market is not a good idea in the book industry. In fact, it’s slowly but surely killing it. Look at France and other countries who are protecting their industry.

  • Robotech_Master

    Isn’t it funny that the only way anyone can think of to try to take Amazon down a peg is to outright break the law?

    Sooner or later, one hopes, more publishers will realize that requiring DRM is only benefiting Amazon. Kind of like how the record labels realized that DRMing their music was only benefiting Apple.

    Not holding my breath, though. They’ve had several years to figure this out already.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    The Invid share your sentiments.

  • Jonah Emery

    I doubt that Amazon will ever be the only major bookseller. History has shown that at least another company will become the not-Amazon company. Coke and Pepsi. Apple and Google.

  • TheJeebus

    FUD. There’s never just one of anything, unless it’s a protected government monopoly. It’s a century old Marxist claim that just isn’t true empirically.