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Old 04-24-2012, 07:05 PM   #1
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Barry Eisler - Why Amazon is Good vs. the Big Six

Sorry if this has been posted elsewhere but I did trawl through the recent threads and couldn't find it:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012...hment-monopoly

Why trailblazing Amazon should take on the publishing establishment


Scaremongers who warn of a potential Amazon monopoly conveniently forget that one already exists in shape of legacy publishers

I thought this would appeal to the readers here
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Old 04-24-2012, 08:25 PM   #2
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He seems to be under the misguided notion that if one side is evil, the other side can only be good. A very naive notion, if you ask me. Replacing one monopoly with another monopoly doesn't magically it not a monopoly.
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Old 04-24-2012, 08:28 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by taustin View Post
He seems to be under the misguided notion that if one side is evil, the other side can only be good. A very naive notion, if you ask me. Replacing one monopoly with another monopoly doesn't magically it not a monopoly.
Careful now, you're doing the same as the poorly written Grauniad article... mixing up cartel with monopoly...

A monopoly has the clue in the word - mono... one, a group of organisations isn't a monopoly (it's more than one), it's a cartel (a group working together)
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Old 04-24-2012, 09:58 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by elcreative View Post
Careful now, you're doing the same as the poorly written Grauniad article... mixing up cartel with monopoly...

A monopoly has the clue in the word - mono... one, a group of organisations isn't a monopoly (it's more than one), it's a cartel (a group working together)
And while monopolies aren't inherently illegal, most cartels are by definition illegal in many countries. (There's even a honking long thread about that somewhere 'round these parts.)
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Old 04-24-2012, 10:54 PM   #5
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And while monopolies aren't inherently illegal, most cartels are by definition illegal in many countries. (There's even a honking long thread about that somewhere 'round these parts.)
Absolutely. Not every monopoly is a problem. Unless there are high barrriers to entry (and the author points out Google and Apple as likely competitors around for the long haul), the fact that there are only a few players in the market is capitalism.

On the other hand, Big 6 do have a monopoly on pbooks, and acted as a cartel to preserve their monopoly and raise prices outside of market forces.
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Old 04-24-2012, 11:52 PM   #6
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Absolutely. Not every monopoly is a problem. Unless there are high barrriers to entry (and the author points out Google and Apple as likely competitors around for the long haul), the fact that there are only a few players in the market is capitalism.

On the other hand, Big 6 do have a monopoly on pbooks, and acted as a cartel to preserve their monopoly and raise prices outside of market forces.
Not entirely true, there are many independent publishers of pbooks (all small by comparison to the 6 but still publishers) who are generally doing pretty well... PS Publishing and Subterranean Press to name but two...
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Old 04-25-2012, 01:53 AM   #7
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For non-essential goods and services, monopolies don't bother me in the least; no matter how high the prices go.

If Amazon was to gain an overwhelming monopoly on all books and then raised the prices to a minimum of $25, I wouldn't care. Why? Because I don't have to buy books to survive. I'd just find something else to keep me amused.

Monopolies succeed because consumers give tacit approval whenever they make a purchase. If consumers quit buying, the monopoly goes away because prices drop and competition creeps in.

Consumers have the power to make or break a monopoly. For this reason, government intervention isn't warranted for non-essential goods and services.
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Old 04-25-2012, 08:06 AM   #8
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On the other hand, Big 6 do have a monopoly on pbooks, and acted as a cartel to preserve their monopoly and raise prices outside of market forces.
I think the Big 6 would be surprised to learn that they are a cartel/monopoly and have such market power. In the United States, nearly 1.3 million books were published in 2011. Of that number, about 225,000 were published by the Big 6.

Also, in 2011, there were more than 50,000 "traditional" publishers in the United States and several hundred thousand self-publishers.

In addition, to say that the Big 6 "have a monopoly on pbooks" implies (assumes?) that 1 pbook can readily be substituted for another pbook, something that few readers or authors would agree on. As is often said, even here on MR, if I want to read Stephen King I want to read Stephen King, not Dean Koontz. Consequently, in the microsense every publisher and self-publisher is a monopolist because more than one publisher does not publish a title in a market.
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Old 04-25-2012, 08:14 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by rhadin View Post
I think the Big 6 would be surprised to learn that they are a cartel/monopoly and have such market power. In the United States, nearly 1.3 million books were published in 2011. Of that number, about 225,000 were published by the Big 6.
That may be, but I'd be more interested in knowing such things as what percent of NYT Best Sellers are from the Big Six? and what percent of total sales are from the Big Six? what percent of the Top 100 selling authors are from the Big Six? etc.
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Old 04-25-2012, 09:04 AM   #10
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Market share in 2009:

Hachette 10%
HarperCollins 9.8%
Macmillan 5.4%
Penguin 11.3%
Random House 17.5%
Simon & Schuster 9.1%

TOTAL 63%

They publish over 80% of NYT Best Sellers.

The alleged collusion of switching to agency pricing at the same time doesn't make them a cartel. They aren't dividing up market share, setting total output, divvying up territories and authors and customers, dividing profits amongst themselves. They also aren't collectively trying to squeeze out smaller publishers.

I.e. we're not talking about DeBeers here.
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Old 04-25-2012, 09:23 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Kali Yuga View Post
Market share in 2009:

Hachette 10%
HarperCollins 9.8%
Macmillan 5.4%
Penguin 11.3%
Random House 17.5%
Simon & Schuster 9.1%

TOTAL 63%

They publish over 80% of NYT Best Sellers.
Thanks; I figured as much.
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Old 04-25-2012, 12:25 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by elcreative View Post
Careful now, you're doing the same as the poorly written Grauniad article... mixing up cartel with monopoly...

A monopoly has the clue in the word - mono... one, a group of organisations isn't a monopoly (it's more than one), it's a cartel (a group working together)
That anti-trust case isn't investigating a cartel.
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Old 04-25-2012, 12:45 PM   #13
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I think the Big 6 would be surprised to learn that they are a cartel/monopoly and have such market power. In the United States, nearly 1.3 million books were published in 2011. Of that number, about 225,000 were published by the Big 6.
Books, or titles? 1.3 million books in the whole of US doesn't sound like a lot. A bestseller is often referred to as "millions sold". Are you certain of these numbers?

If it is titles then that would include a lot of academic publishing, while interesting for those in the field, hardly gather any sales among the general public.
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Old 04-25-2012, 12:53 PM   #14
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That anti-trust case isn't investigating a cartel.
Did I say it was??? I was talking about the meanings of monopoly and cartel and poking gentle fun at the comment... read what's written...
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Old 04-25-2012, 01:36 PM   #15
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Of all the UK newspapers, the Guardian probably has the strongest media-and-publishing readership, so it's not surprising that some of the comments are a little... rabid...
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