Online retailing giant Amazon caved to book publisher Macmillan over the weekend, first pulling then restoring their catalog in a dispute over e-book pricing. Not too surprising.
But what really struck me was the statement Amazon issued Sunday afternoon in announcing their capitulation:
“We want you to know that ultimately, however, we will have to capitulate and accept Macmillan’s terms because Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles, and we will want to offer them to you even at prices we believe are needlessly high for e-books,”
Really? Macmillan has a “monopoly” over their own titles? Isn’t that kinda like saying that McDonald’s has a monopoly over its own burgers, or that, say, Amazon has a monopoly over the sale of its own Kindle devices?
It is a rather startling implication — that there is something wrong with a publisher maintaining monopoly control over its own titles — but not as purely silly or resentful as it may first appear. The sale of goods and e-goods are not the same thing, and this shift away from physical media to online distribution may in fact demand a dramatic rethinking of the traditional relationship between content creators, owners and resellers.
And it will be fascinating to watch how this all works out.