Wednesday, May 28, 2014

On Amazon and Predatory Pricing

Charles Stross is a very interesting guy. Aside from his brilliant science fiction novels he has a very informative blog, and in this particular entry he discusses the conflict going on between Hachette (a publisher) and Amazon's efforts to force them to comply with what boils down to a dispute over who gets to benefit from the surplus earnings...the distributor (Amazon) or the publisher (Hachette). I won't repeat what Charles has discussed, though, as he talks about it more eloquently and with better information than I.

What is especially interesting to me is his discussion on the predatory pricing model Amazon employs. This is a big answer to me about why prices on the Kindle are always cheaper than prices on the Nook, with only certain big-name publisher titles generally being the exception. He has an earlier 2012 article that discusses the general Amazon strategy and its use of predatory pricing in more detail here.

I've talked about the pricing issue of Amazon vs. Nook in other posts, but reading Charles' entries on the subject has left me with a bit of a bad taste in my mouth towards Amazon. While I like the savings, knowing that that savings comes at a long term cost on the impact of the overall heath and financial well-being of the authors I like is not something that sits well with me. I strongly believe in the necessity of consumers learning to appreciate the value of the creative content which the consume, and as an author myself when I can get the time to devote to it I know it's no small amount of effort to go from reading a good book to actually writing one.

There are still plenty of authors on Amazon's Kindle shop that I can't get anywhere else. If that's the only place I can purchase their goods and support them, then so be it. I haven't yet heard any negative commentary on any Barnes & Noble Nook practices, so maybe I need to just accept that sometimes, for my own personal conscience, the value of saving a dollar or two in exchange for a clean conscience is worth that much. I already do this with Walmart (I do not shop at Walmart except in desperation) so applying that same standard to Amazon isn't too much of a stretch for me.

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