Amazon: Online Sales and Fine French Whine

May 28, 2014

I read “Amazon’s Hit List: Which Books Are Screwed, and By How Much.” Interesting analysis. The main point of the article is that allegedly Amazon is taking action to alert Hachette to real capitalism. Now I know that the French have different views about capitalism. If the recent election in France is an indicator, there will be some excitement about Amazon’s behavior in the near future.

I did notice a couple of statements in the write up that made it to my “save for later” file. Here are three of the ones with checkmarks next to them:

First, the story says: “The two most [Hachette] recent releases (Instinct and The Closer), both of which came out May 6th, have had their availability pushed back one to three weeks for no reason other than Amazon’s abstinence. If you order them today from BN.com, they’ll ship within 24 hours.” Foot dragging may not be such a big deal. I want longer for some Amazon orders than I did in the past. Amazon is getting larger and with bulk, movement may be less sprightly.

Second, the article reports, “…Half of Hachette’s marquee titles coming out in the next few months are altogether unavailable.” This may be a discontinuity in product flow.

Third, the article regurgitates one of those online truisms which are often wrong; for example:

just to go to Barnes & Noble or, better yet, your local independent bookseller for these titles. Better yet, go to them for all of your book needs until this anti-consumer muscle-flexing subsides. Amazon has every right to fight dirty. And you have every right to show them the consequences.

My view is that Hachette faces a start choice with regard to Amazon. I also think that certain French regulatory officials will take an interest in this dust up. If I were an Amazonian and visiting France, I would be on my best behavior. The French companies and French authorities often enjoy a different relationship than their American counterparts.

Amazon may find that red tape in France is one of the smaller challenges the company will encounter if this dispute develops legs.

Stephen E Arnold, May 28, 2014

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