Amazon controls roughly one third of the book market in the United States, giving it considerable muscle to extract favorable sales and payment terms. And according to Hachette Books, one of the largest New York publishing groups, Amazon is monopolistically delaying shipment of hard cover books 2-4 weeks by authors like Stephen Colbert and Malcolm Gladwell in order to do just that.
The accusations against Amazon by Hachette are not new, as detailed by Brad Stone in his book The Everything Store. Stone says that “Amazon views publishers as “sickly” gazelles and itself as a cheetah.”
Amazon’s stock has taken a beating of late, and they are apparently trying to recover by using the power of their monopoly status. “Publishers say the bookseller, whose shares have tumbled 25 percent this year as investors itch for profits, is determined to squeeze as much margin out of its suppliers as possible.”
A spokeswoman from Hachette says that sales of ebooks have not been affected, although Amazon did mess with MacMillan in 2010 by removing the buttons for their Kindle book sales in the midst of a negotiation.
Ironically, the Antitrust division of the Justice Department has gone after publishers like McMillan and Hachette in the past for conspiring to raise poor Amazon’s digital book prices, but has never batted an eyelash at CIA contractor Amazon’s practices.
When the history of this era is written people are going to scratch their heads at the DoJ’s anti trust division for being asleep at the wheel while enormous unregulated monopolies like Google and Amazon continue their unseemly merger with the federal government — reserving their regulatory power for use against companies that threaten the behemoths.