Amazon escalates its battle against book publishers

“Amazon, under fire in much of the literary community for energetically discouraging customers from buying books from the publisher Hachette, has abruptly escalated the battle,” David Streitfeld and Melissa Eddy reports for The New York Times.

“The retailer began refusing orders late Thursday for coming Hachette books, including J.K. Rowling’s new novel,” Streitfeld and Eddy reports. “The paperback edition of Brad Stone’s ‘The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon’ — a book Amazon disliked so much it denounced it — is suddenly listed as ‘unavailable.'”

“Amazon is also flexing its muscles in Germany, delaying deliveries of books issued by Bonnier, a major publisher,” Streitfeld and Eddy reports. “‘It appears that Amazon is doing exactly that on the German market which it has been doing on the U.S. market: using its dominant position in the market to blackmail the publishers,”’ said Alexander Skipis, president of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association.”

“The confrontations with the publishers are the biggest display of Amazon’s dominance since it briefly stripped another publisher, Macmillan, of its ‘buy”’ buttons in 2010,” Streitfeld and Eddy reports. “It seems likely to encourage debate about the enormous power the company wields. No company in American history has exerted the control over the American book market — physical, digital and secondhand — that Amazon does.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Wonderful job, inept U.S. DOJ, you’ve emboldened abusive monopolist to run amuck, you clueless wonders.

To paraphrase Scott Turow, the president of the Author’s Guild: The irony of this bites hard: our government has killed real competition in order to save the appearance of competition.

The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help. – Ronald Reagan, August 12, 1986

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Anonyme” and “Gk” for the heads up.]

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In pretrial view, judge says leaning toward U.S. DOJ over Apple in e-books case – May 24, 2013
Lawyers have complained for years that Judge Denise Cote pre-judges cases before she enters the courtroom – August 14, 2013

U.S. Federal Puppet Denise Cote: ‘Apple’s reaction to the existence of a monitorship underscores the wisdom of its imposition’ – January 16, 2014
Judge Denise Cote denies Apple request block her friend as ‘antitrust compliance monitor’ – January 13, 2014
Antitrust monitor Bromwich rebuts Apple accusations of ‘unconstitutional’ investigation – December 31, 2013
Apple seeks to freeze its U.S. e-books ‘antitrust monitor’ – December 15, 2013
The persecution of Apple: Is the U.S. government’s ebook investigation out of control? – December 10, 2013
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Apple takes aim not just at court-ordered e-books monitor, but also at U.S. District Judge Denise Cote herself – December 2, 2013
U.S.A. v. Apple: Judge Denise Cote assigns DOJ monitor in Apple ebook price-fixing case – October 17, 2013
U.S.A. v. Apple: Judge issues injunction against Apple in ebooks antitrust case; largely in line with what DOJ wanted – September 6, 2013
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73 Comments

    1. Ah yes, Reagan a real President who actually loved America the way it was conceived and had no intention of “radically transforming” it into a socialist workers paradise, where nobody works and paradise is just a place the President visits on his weekly vacations. God how I wish for Reagan instead of the shithead doofus we have now.

      1. If you truly believe that everything is that clear cut and binary…that Reagan is on one end and Obama is on the other, then you are the shithead doofus.

        If you cannot recognize that Congress bears a large proportion of the blame for inept, gridlocked government and insist on blaming absolutely everything on Obama, then you are the shithead doofus.

        I am not enthralled with Obama. But he is not evil incarnate, either. This is just a ridiculous discussion instigated by extremist righties with their heads up their collective ass along with the Tea Party and everyone else who thinks science is wrong, capitalism can do no wrong, and money trickles down just like water. Fairness is not socialism. Socialism is not communism. And labeling is not understanding.

        Why don’t you all move to Texas where you can play the game “I am more conservative than you.” I plan to get the hell out of this asinine state as soon as I can.

        1. No, the President who despises the Constitution he swore an oath to protect is a shithead doofus with big ears. The President who allowed four people under attack who work for us to be raped and murdered while he ignored the Situation Room and got a bj from Reggie Love is a shithead doofus with big ears. The President who is doing all he can to destroy our domestic banking, manufacturing, energy, and other private businesses is a shithead doofus with big ears. The idiot who lied repeatedly about his brilliant health care plan (you can keep your plan and doctor and save $2500) is a shithead doofus with big ears. And the disgusting President who has done all he can to destroy the lives of active and retired military and the Veterans Administration and now gives bonuses to those who allow vets to die is a shithead doofus with big ears..

          1. Kent — Have you been taking your meds?

            Seriously, “hates the Constitution?” Really? You mean because he’s let the NSA do exactly the same thing they did under Bush? Because he’s used signing statements in exactly the same fashion as every President in the last 50 years, including your saintly Ronald Reagan?

            Or is it because he backs policies that for whatever reason you don’t agree with.

            Listen, I hated everything about the way Bush and Cheney ran the country, but I accepted they were elected to the highest offices and plotted to overthrow them the way we’re supposed to — at the ballot box in four or eight years.

            Everything else you’re saying is either distorted talking points or utter nonsense (do you REALLY think he’s done all he can to DESTROY the lives of active and retired military?).

            Get a grip man. You’ll have your chance to throw Obama out of office in about 30 months. Just like it says in the Constitution.

            1. Unlike liberals I get pissed off when the Democrat President openly does all he can to destroy our country because he wants to turn us into Cuba.

            2. 1. Obamacare is destroying both our health care system and our economy.

              2. The trillion dollar average annual deficit he has run is destroying the future for our kids and our economic strength.

              3. Dodd Frank is destroying our banking system.

              4. Obama allowed the four Americans to be killed in Libya. He ordered that no help be given.

              5. Obama has instructed the IRS to attack political opponents with audits and every other means possible.

              6. Obama is aiding Islamic terrorist groups around the world including in Libya and Egypt where he used the US resources to install Muslim brotherhood tyrants.

              7. Obama is making us reliant on foreign oil by preventing basically all drilling on federal lands and preventing the Keystone pipeline.

              8. Obama has stated he will only enforce laws he wants to enforce, making his Presidency a mockery of the constitutional requirement that he see that all laws be faithfully executed.

              9. Obama is destroying the military by making it a laboratory where odd sexual practices are encouraged and almost even required.

              10. Obama has destroyed racial relations in the US and has done everything possible to pit white against black, rich against poor, man against woman. Obama loves to stoke animosity.

              Obama has achieved the highest level of food stamps recipients ever. Unemployment levels, when counting those who have given up looking, are near the levels of the Great Depression. The only thing preventing people from noticing is that Obama now has about 50-60 % of the population receiving welfare/food-EBT/disability payments from the government, which are coming from the trillions in deficits he is racking up.

              Everything he has done has turned to shit.

            3. Unlike conservatives, I care about the real job creators, working people. These job creators have been under fire since bonzo took office. Conservatives are all about something for nothing.

            4. Since you care so much about the working people you should stop voting for Democrats. Unde Obama we now have Great Depression era unemployment levels when u count the people who have given up looking. Same in every major city run for generations by one party Democrat machines. Democrats hate companies so they make laws that hurt workers. Which puts the lie to your claim. You vote against workers every time you vote for Obama and his greedy cronies.

          2. “the President who despises the Constitution he swore an oath to protect”

            You mean like Reagan who violated the Constitution by violating a Congressional ban by supplying arms to the Contras to overthrow a democratically elected government? Or like Reagan who sold weapons to our enemies the Iranians to fund that illegal operation?

            1. Reagan was helping people seeking to get rid of communists who were taking over Nicaragua, with the support of the Democrats in the US Congress. Obama aids and abets Muslim killers in Libya and in the US

          3. How do you function with all that bullshit replacing a brain?

            Not a singe piece of that is accurate whatsoever.

            Only in your bizzaro world is implementing the cost controls that every major group involved in the medical community has recommended for twenty years ‘destroying’ anything. Only in your delusions is creating healthcare exchange where people buy the same private policies (with far better minimum coverage which, for example, saved my friend who owns his real estate company over $300 a month for better coverage than he could previously get) somehow ‘destroying’ anything.

            Clearly you forget the 3,000 americans who were killed because bush exiled the Clinton anti-terror cabinet official from the white house, and then appointed Ashcroft who told the FBI officially to ignore Al Queda and focus on persecuting porn industry people instead. You’ve also forgot the 16 americans killed in Lebanon under Reagan, various attacks on our embassies under Reagan and Bush and more.

            Socialist? Lmao. Not remotely. The man appointed a ton of banking industry and stock experts to his administration, who saved the free-fall economy that Bush’s stupidity created. Remember poor clueless Mccain running back to Washington during the campaign to ‘fix’ the 700,000 per month jobs the economy was shedding? I do.

            Done all he can to harm Vets? Is that why THE INCOMING OBAMA ADMINISTRATION WAS HANDED REPORTS ABOUT THE VA BEING FUCKED BY BUSH FOR THE PREVIOUS 6 YEARS????? IN 2006, THE GOP ONLY ALLOWED THEM A .05% INCREASE! That’s while fighting the war full blast!

            http://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/soldier-s-wife-holds-bake-sales-for-armor/article_8f9e5ab0-9575-5486-849f-875862cf50e2.html – Soldier’s families having to hold bake sales for body armor under Bush! Fuck you and your bullshit about Bush and Vets.

            Obama has done more for the vets than any piece of shit republican in the last 30 years. His economic stimulus package of 2009 that included $1 billion for the V.A. When the Senate was ready to pass a $24 billion bill for federal healthcare and education programs for veterans three months ago, Senate Republicans blocked it in a filibuster, saying it would bust the budget.

            1. How did you vote twice for a “Comminity organizer” who was raised and trained by communists and who has stated his disdain for America as founded?

            2. I agree with most of your reply, but I wouldn’t waste your time responding to Kent’s posts….he obviously has an IV drip supplying him with a steady dose of Fox News Kool-Aid, so logic and facts have no hope of getting through to him.

              Fox has given him way too much training in how to distort reality in order to make it support what Fox has told him to believe.

              Kent: if you do read this, don’t bother replying…but consider this: how can I tell that you watch Fox News exclusively (& very frequently)? Could it be because their pattern of influence is instantly recognizable in your refusal to acknowledge facts? Or is it because I recognize how you twist things to support your/their agenda, just like they’ve taught you to do?

            3. Yes, I am willing to state the obvious truth that Obama is destroying the country on purpose. You, being a head in the sand liberal doofus, sense trouble, but place a premium on the “cool factor” you get from Hollywood and the media from denying reality and celebrating the fact that our current President is dismantling our country piece by piece. He admits he only enforces the laws as he chooses. He admits his IRS has targeted his enemies – an obvious illegal act. He allowed all the Libyan stationed US citizens to be killed and he ordered no military help be given, in violation of the military tradition of not leaving people in harms way without doing everything possible to help. He has destroyed our health system. He has added 5 trillion dollars to the deficit and by the end of his term he will have doubled the national debt he inherited that was accumulated by all his predecessors. He is using executive power to shut down perfectly functional and paid for coal power plants for no good reason, forcing new natural gas plants to be built, driving up the cost of natural gas for home heating. He is destroying our military on purpose and making it a gay hangout. And transvestite hangout. He intentionally gave machine guns to drug cartel goons so they would kill Americans and Mexicans (which they did with over 200 dead) so he could advance his anti-2nd Amendment agenda. And he provides aid and comfort to the murderous Muslim Brotherhood whenever he can. The Muslim Brotherhood believes in stoning gays, honor killing of wives who don’t satisfy their husbands, and killing Christians whenever possible. That is the President you voted for. You should be ashamed.

            4. The only way everything you state could be true is if you absolve congress. He can only sign what congress sends him. Your comments are a laugh.

            5. Obama hates America and is doing all he can to destroy America. He doesn’t need Congress that much because he is now using “executive action” which he bragged about, his power to be a tyrant. He has a “pen and a phone” which he uses to call in commands to his bureaucrats to kill jobs and America. He does get help from congress from the corrupt ones like Harry Reid and Pelosi and Kohn Boehner.

        2. Beautiful post, and well stated.

          My fiancée’s parents think I’m a hardcore Obama-loving Democrat just because I point out that 99.9% of what they forward in email is probably false (& I send back links to the proof).

          In reality, I’m disappointed with Obama’s performance thus far….and yet I do recognize that the biggest part of the problem is the obstructionist politics and brinksmanship maneuvering in which BOTH parties in Congress insist on engaging.

          Basically , I’m not crazy about most Democrats….but they’re generally better than the “race to the extreme right” Republican options.

            1. Since you voted for Obama you have disqualified yourself from making any statements about anything for at least a decade. You may be a completely I curable doofus.

        1. Socialists and communists do book burnings. And liberals in America are the new Thought Police enforcing penalties against anyone who thinks improperly. Upstanding elder statesmen like Al Sharpton (who no longer incites people to commit murder) are today’s enforcers.

  1. Government has fundamentally changed. It is run exclusively for the benefit of the lobbyists populating DC and our State Capitols. While influence wielders have always had their say, there was a moral code that federal legislators wouldn’t cross. Not any more.

    It’s even more perverse at the State level. Has anyone ever seen the wild “incentives” States bequeath to those companies considering locating within their borders???

    1. It seems all that gets them is the threat of a conspiracy trial. If another company helps them try to use a different business model, that company will have a leech installed by the courts. Seems like the DoJ wouldn’t recognize a real monopolist if it bit them in the ass.

      1. Contrary to popular belief, monopolies are not illegal in the United States. What is illegal is actions taken by monopolies to limit competition.

        In other words, if a business is effective at attracting all the customers, they did nothing wrong, even if everyone else went out of business as a result. On the other hand, colluding to block the ability of another to effectively compete, is anticompetitive, and that is illegal.

    2. They tried. According to Cote, that’s called collusion. The punishment is obviously a fine against any random company that happens to be doing well at the time, in this case Apple. If only Tim Cook had waited just a little longer to make Apple successful, it would have been Exxon getting sued by Cote. That certainly put those publishers in their place! /s

      1. Tempting. Bad idea though – this action by Amazon is one of desperation because profitability has always been a major problem there. Bezos has been saying to trust him for so long, but now his business model is crumbling – which is why he’s bullying publishers and authors to take the fall. Should Apple jump into that cess pool with him at unsustainable margins? Absolutely not, except in the way they already did originally, and were fined on the instigation of the idiot DOJ.

    1. I don’t see how this doesn’t actually help publishers keep regular bookstores alive by having them sell books Amazon either refuses to carry or is trying to get a perceived ‘unfair’ deal from them.. Amazon is just another ‘outlet’.. There is no way any court will see their actions as harming the economy or the consumer. Heck, I’m sure WalMart would be overjoyed to take anything Amazon refuses since they have both an online presence as well as brick stores. All this will mean is that the publisher will have to do a bit more legwork in signing outlets. Amazon just made them lazy as a large buyer.

        1. Sure! The Chief Justice enrolls in the new Amazon Supreme programs and Amazon agrees to have drones circling the court at all hours. It’s so convenient to get ink cartridges at any time that the court will naturally look past the possible *influence* induced by possibly armed drones following you.

          /s

  2. I am trying to comprehend why MDN and other of like minded people think that it is wrong for Amazon to exercise their rights to not sell a product, or products by a given company, etc. I am sure the book about Bozos (intentionally spelt that way) is eye opening for some, and threatening to Amazon in some way. However, how is it logical to say that the government should intervene and force Amazon to list or sella product they choose not to. I don’t much like Amazon anymore, but is still feel they have the right to not stock something they disagree with, regardless of their reasoning. It’s not as if Hachette and the book they hate can’t be procured elsewhere. So, what makes it seem logical to all the anti-government right wingers who constantly scream how important the free market is, and how it will take care of wrong-doers, to expect the government to intervene and what? Force Amazon to sell something they don’t want to?

    That’s some dumbass logic right there!

    1. The argument has been all along that Amazon will essentially monopolize the book market and in the process force other book sellers out of business. They have in a large degree succeeded. Now they are using that monopoly to manipulate what will be sold (free speech issue?) and eventually will raise prices. Since there are almost no other outlets for the publishers to use for distribution, they are at Amazon’s mercy. Now where is the DOJ and the AG’s who were all over Apple? No where to be found! Justice is an illusion!

      1. I am sorry, but that is nonsense. There is nothing in any way whatsoever illegal about a monopoly. Price collusion is illegal, and that is what Apple was found guilty of. After all, Amazon set prices lower, whilst apple colluded with publishers to raise prices. It is entirely within Amazon’s rights to set the prices at anything they want, though it is also the right of the publishers to set their prices at anything they want,and also to refuse to sell to Amazon. So, Amazon was successful at business, and of becoming a market leader? News flash. That’s called capitalism. It’s not illegal. It’s what all businesses in the modern, corporatist “free-market” aspire to. If people can’t buy Hachette’s books from Amazon because Amazon chooses to not sell, them, they have done nothing in any way, shape or form, illegal. Immoral. Debatable. Unethical? Perhaps. At any rate, the tripe that Amazon has put every other book seller out of business is nonsense. There are hundreds of successful booksellers all across the country, and the largest of which, of not the majority sell online. I personally buy books from a local bookseller, and whilst their prices are not as low as Amazon’s, I can relax on their comfy couch, read several chapters from several books, decide which one I like, buy it, and take it home, or stay there and buy a coffee. The companies that put these little stores out of business never were Amazon. It was B&N, Borders, etc., but those guys played the low price game, whilst offering the local store perks… A losing equation.

        Anyhow, the real point is this… If the right wing nutters think Apple was in the right and the DOJ should not have stuck their noses in (I am indifferent on this issue personally), then why so they think the DOJ should stick their noses in when no laws are being broken? Double standards. Plain and simple. It’s not a capitalist government’s job to ensure the viability of a business. It is the businesses responsibility. If Hachette has a product worth selling, there will be a place they can do so, somewhere. Period.

        1. Eric, please keep in mind that while a monopoly is not illegal, an abusive monopoly is. Setting up barriers to entry that could be deleterious to the viability of a company or product because of the strength of a business like Amazon is not to be taken lightly.

          While I am not fond of government oversight, regulation exists to assure that businesses can compete fairly in the marketplace. When a business such as Amazon can assert its clout to cut publishers out of its system, that can have a profound impact on Hachette and the authors who publish under their name.

          By next year, Amazon Kindle sales will pass that of paperback books. Retail book sellers are struggling to stay in business, given the pervasive strength wielded by Amazon. As storefront and online alternatives to Amazon fade away, it puts real press on publishers to tow the line set forth by Amazon. As such, actions like the one described above can make or break publishers doing business with Amazon.

          I hope this might help you better understand the potential Amazon holds for being abusive monopoly, and the impact this could have.

          1. “while a monopoly is not illegal, an abusive monopoly is.”..Agreed. “Setting up barriers to entry that could be deleterious to the viability of a company or product because of the strength of a business like Amazon is not to be taken lightly.”.. This I have to disagree with.. The publisher does not HAVE to sell to Amazon. The publishers have just gotten lazy with dealing with a single large buyer.. It is completely reasonable for a large company to get great deals on contracts (see Apple and its part suppliers) and then sell those products or products made from purchased components at whatever price they see fit (once again Apple as exhibit with iDevices).

            1. But the issue here and now is that Amazon is taking actions in the marketplace to force the publisher already under contract to act in a manner preferential to Amazon. This is a monopolistic practice that has significant case history. Amazon’s proper action would be to cancel the Hachette contract and return all unsold inventory.

            2. I don’t see how either party can force the other party to do anything without mutual agreement unless there is a breach of contract by one or both parties. Another contract could be drawn up though which is another story altogether.

              Also depending on the contract the unsold inventory may have already been purchased by Amazon and the Publisher calling for a return of all unsold inventory.will result in a return of capital to Amazon from the publisher.. I don’t think Amazon will have any problem with that.

  3. Why don’t some people (mdn) understand how our government works? Politicians have to beg rich people and giant corporations for campaign money to get elected, and then those politicians do exactly what the donors want them to do. It is a vanity to believe that our representatives work for us. They don’t. They do exactly what their wealthy donors want them to do. And that is why folding your arms and huffing away about how “bad” government is ruining the country is short-sighted and stupid. Want to see Democracy come back? Get money out of politics, and not just your opponents side. 28th Amendment.

  4. When Apple fought the DOJ most of the book publishers turned tail and ran for cover. The made deals and didn’t support apple. Now they are suffering the consequences.

  5. They brought it on themselves.

    Instead of helping Apple fight for their future, they caved and left Cupertino to carry the charge on its own.

    This is what they get for having no backbone.

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