Scott Turow and Laura Miller on Amazon as Monopoly

A very lucid give-and-take between a prominent critic and a very prominent author (whose longtime day job is as a lawyer, and who now serves as president of the Authors Guild professional association), outlining the challenges raised by Amazon’s aggressive pricing strategies and contentious relations with publishers. This gives as a clear a picture as I’ve yet read of the ways in which some Amazon practices appear designed to discourage competition–and the very real prospect of Amazon’s opportunity to become a monopoly in book publishing and retailing.

I appreciate the way Turow takes pains here to talk about the many wonderful things he appreciates about Amazon. I’ve always liked dealing with Amazon, both as a consumer and as a publisher. But I’ve always gone out of my way to patronize traditional bookstores (the good ones, at least)–I always saw Amazon as a great complement to those stores, not as a desirable replacement. And I think the prospect of Amazon as a publisher is very dismaying, on many levels. If Amazon’s business conduct truly does become monopolistic, I think the U.S. Department of Justice’s focus on book industry practices might better be aimed at Amazon than at its various competitors.

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