Monday, July 28, 2014

A single publisher going it alone won't counter the might of Amazon

Competition between publishing houses here and in the US means they stand little chance of ending Amazon's dominance

ebooks harpercollins
‘The fact remains that most general readers neither know nor care who publishes their favourite authors.’ Photograph: Alamy

A couple of weeks ago, HarperCollins rolled out a new website in the US that allows customers to buy ebooks direct from the publisher, and will follow with a new UK site next month. It is, of course, citing it as a community-building exercise (which means brand-building), and a way of ensuring that its authors' books are always available to the public. In truth, HarperCollins is currently locked in a pricing dispute with Amazon, as are several other publishers. Amazon recently started blocking pre-orders and delaying shipments on certain Hachette titles as part of a move to remand a higher cut of the retail price.

As Amazon currently has some 60% of the global ebook market, it is difficult to argue with. But few publishers have built viable alternative infrastructures for selling ebooks – Hachette's website just directs visitors to Amazon and iBooks, while Penguin's requires the reader to have Adobe Digital Editions installed, a whole other round of trouble.

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