When Amazon rules the world

The book world can’t live with Amazon—and can’t live without it has tentacles in every part of the book trade: It runs a print-on-demand service (BookSurge) and a self-publishing service (CreateSpace). It sells e-books and an e-device to read them on (the Kindle, a new version of which, the DX, went on sale June 10). In 2008 alone, Amazon acquired a leading audiobooks company; AbeBooks, a major online used-book retailer; and Shelfari, a Facebook-like social network for readers. In April of this year, it snapped up Lexcycle, which makes an e-reading app for the iPhone called Stanza. And now there’s Amazon Encore, which makes Amazon a print publisher too. So many tentacles, publishers worry, that there may not be room for anyone else in the digital future. All retailers—just one of Amazon’s manifestations—get discounts from their wholesalers, but some publishers think the discounts Amazon asks for are getting too deep. “They’re fast approaching the point where we just can’t afford to do business with them,” says a well-known New York book editor, who asked not to be identified. “It’ll be interesting to see what happens then.”


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