Is what they’re saying about Amazon true or just a Hachette job?

Amazon a bully?

Amazon a bully?


Everything I had read before today on the Amazon vs. Hachette I had mostly dismissed because it all seemed to fall somewhere on the spectrum between hype and hysteria. Amazon the Bully. Amazon the death of traditional publishing. Amazon the Underhanded. And did I mention one-sided as well?

And so I was delighted to read David Gaughram’s post   “Amazon vs. Hachette: Don’t Believe the Hype.” He debunks some of the hype, then goes on to put things in context.

Debunking the hype:

  1. First of all, if you look at several of Amazon’s so-called bullying tactics, you’ll see there might have been good business reasons for them quite apart from “bullying;” and
  2. Second, Hachette isn’t some publishing David confronting Amazon’s Goliath – it’s a part of the second-biggest publishing conglomerate out there. What really seems to be happening is that Hachette and friends are carrying on a very successful Public Relations campaign. In fact, the only real sign of Amazon acting like a behemoth may be that it’s not bothering to defend itself.

The real story

Beyond these points, the real story behind the story, says David, is that these negotiations are just the first aftershock from the Apple/Publisher price fixing verdict. As part of the settlement, all convicted publishers are required to re-negotiate their Amazon contracts. Hachette just happens to be the first one up.

Naturally, it’s pulling out all the stops, including negotiating in the court of public opinion, to get the best deal it can. So, equally naturally, is Amazon.

The other major publishers will negotiate their deals, one at a time, after Hachette gets done. Guess who’s side they’re one?

We’ve seen this before

Remember when we had strong unions, and when the first union was negotiating with (say) General Motors, all the other GM unions would get behind them? Why – because they knew that the terms of the first deal would likely set the terms of all the subsequent deals. You can bet your business booty that the other publishers are doing whatever they can to weaken Amazon during their negotiations with Hachette. Of course, having just lost an epic collusion lawsuit they can’t be too obvious about it….

I’m not saying Amazon is a goody-two-shoes here. I’m just saying their “tactics” are probably a lot less mercenary than reported, and certainly no more mercenary than Hachette’s.

Assume the profit motive – for all parties

I’ve logged a few decades working in big corporate and studying their business world, and I can assure you of one thing: you won’t lose any money by assuming that business are completely self-serving, and when they say something, it’s self-serving as well.

As for Amazon? They’ve become a behemoth by putting the customer first and doing everything they can to get their suppliers to do better on price and delivery. Kinda like Walmart, but with good pay and benefits. All their competitors have to do is follow suit, and Amazon won’t be the only game in town any more.

What’s your take?

Here’s the link to David Graighram’s post:

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