The Reading Monopoly

Andrew Sullivan —  Jun 2 2012 @ 2:13pm


Steve Wasserman profiles Amazon and the immense power the company holds in the book world and beyond:

The bookstore wars are over. Independents are battered, Borders is dead, Barnes & Noble weakened but still standing and Amazon triumphant. Yet still there is no peace; a new war rages for the future of publishing. The recent Justice Department lawsuit accusing five of the country’s biggest publishers of illegally colluding with Apple to fix the price of e-books is, arguably, publishing’s Alamo.

What angered the government wasn’t the price, but the way the publishers seemed to have secretly arranged to raise it. Many publishers and authors were flabbergasted, accusing the Obama administration of having gone after the wrong culprit. Scott Turow, president of the Authors Guild, denounced the suit, as did David Carr, the media critic of the New York Times, who said it was "the modern equivalent of taking on Standard Oil but breaking up Ed’s Gas ‘N’ Groceries on Route 19 instead." On its face, the suit seemed an antitrust travesty, a failure to go after the "monopolistic monolith" that is, as the Times put it, "publishing’s real nemesis." In this view, the biggest threat is Amazon’s willingness to sell e-books at a loss in order to seduce millions of unwitting consumers into the leviathan’s cornucopia of online goods and services. 

(Image from Matej Kren's installation "Scanner", via Flavorwire)