Amazon: Travel with Care

In recent years, Amazon has used its dominance in ways that we believe harm the interests of America’s readers, impoverish the book industry as a whole, damage the careers of (and generate fear among) many authors, and impede the free flow of ideas in our society.

  • Amazon, to pressure publishers over the past eleven years, has blocked and curtailed the sale of millions of books by thousands of authors;
  • Amazon, during its dispute with Hachette in 2014, appears to have engaged in content control, selling some books but not others based on the author’s prominence or the book’s political leanings;
  • Amazon has used its monopsony power, and its ability to threaten punishment, to extract an ever greater share of the total price of a book from publishers; this has resulted in publishers dropping some midlist authors and not publishing certain riskier books, effectively silencing many voices;
  • Amazon routinely sells many types of books below cost in order to acquire customers for unrelated lines of business and to drive less well capitalized retailers – like Borders – out of business. This practice, extending over many years, has caused price deflation across the industry and reduced the amount of revenue available for publishers to invest in new books, thus depriving readers of wider choice;
  • Amazon routinely uses its market power to steer readers toward its own books and away from books published by other companies;
  • Amazon dictates pricing to self-published authors, requiring them to price their books within a specific range or be subjected to a 50 percent cut in royalties.

Read Author’s United open letter.

And Caille Milner at SF Gate issued her own self-revelation and plea last week.

I’m no consumer saint. After the whole Hachette fiasco, I stopped buying books on Amazon last year. I moved all of my online book shopping over to Powell’s, and I’m a happy frequenter of local stores such as Christopher’s Books, Green Apple and the Alexander Book Co.

But I buy other things from the site — all of my weird vitamins and hippie tonics, scarce beauty products, the odd MP3.

I do this even though I know how bad Amazon is.

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