Sunday, January 31 2010

Amazon versus Macmillan

Most people who’ve opined on the current Amazon/Macmillan flap have reflexively sided with Macmillan, without waiting for statements from either side. When the CEO of Macmillan issued a statement explaining that they went to Amazon to renegotiate their contract and the two sides failed to come to agreement, this was taken as further evidence that Amazon was Teh Evil and should be shunned from now on.

I read that statement a little differently.

M: “Okay, Amazon, our current terms are A. We want B (higher retail prices for ebooks), but if you don’t like that, you can have C (current pricing, but no ebook sales for N weeks after release).”

A: “We like A. Our customers like A. We’d like to stick with A.”

M: “No deal.”

A: “Okay. With no contract, though, we’ll have to stop selling your books. Today.”

M: (ohshittheydidn’tblink)

[Update: when the Kindle blog was updated with a “we’ll have to cave in to M’s demands eventually, because we want to sell their books”, this was immediately spun as a massive victory for Macmillan (and, in many eyes, for “us”). It’s now Tuesday, February 2nd, though, and a spot check does not show Amazon selling Macmillan books again. Apparently people were so excited that they missed the word “eventually”. As of right now, the deal’s still off, which has got to be hitting Macmillan where it hurts.]