At TechCrunch, Erick Schonfeld has posted an editorial about the on-going “e-book wars” between Amazon and Apple, and why Amazon cannot afford to lose. Schonfeld mentions a number of the things covered here in the last few days: Amazon’s purchase of Touchco, Rupert Murdoch’s ominous remarks about Harper-Collins pricing, and so forth.
This one is counter-intuitive. Typically, people think of pricing power as the ability to raise prices. With AMZN, it’s the ability to lower prices and to compete on Price, Selection & Convenience. If Amazon is forced to do away with $9.99 pricing on all best-sellers (which typically account for 5% of book retailers’ sales), it will be less able to compete effectively with other eBook retailers.
Just as I’ve said, Macmillan wants to take control away from Amazon and engage in resale price maintenance. Not only is this bad for the consumer, it also means demand for Amazon’s Kindle might suffer giving Apple’s iPad the advantage in a head-to-head e-book battle.
Meanwhile, John Scalzi has posted an “interview” with himself on Whatever, in which he talks about the current state of Amazon/Macmillan affairs. In the post itself, he comes off as reasonably balanced for someone firmly in Macmillan’s camp—he is only “boycotting” Amazon until they put the titles back, unlike some others who are swearing to do no business with Amazon again.
It is a shame that he has to turn around and spoil this in his responses to the comments.
Perhaps he is simply getting tired of the debate, but there is a repeated pattern of petulant behavior on Scalzi’s part. People opposed to what Macmillan is doing have been raising points and asking Scalzi to address them—some of them rather rudely, true, but others at least trying to be civil—and Scalzi simply posts dismissive comments without replying to the substance of their remarks.
It is his blog, of course, and he is free to say whatever he likes in it, but it is frustrating to see people trying to engage in a dialogue and him just smarting off. I enjoy Scalzi’s writing, and do not plan to stop reading it—but why is it that the most gifted writers often have the worst personalities?