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Not everything always goes smoothly over at Amazon. PaidContent reports that, for a few hours Thursday night, it seems Amazon inadvertently disabled the Kindle e-book buy buttons on Big Six publishers (and who knows what other publishers?) for a few hours. The company reported it was a “technical issue”. It also affected users’ ability to buy Kindle e-books or download titles they’d already bought.

The funny thing to me is that this little glitch wouldn’t even be a news item if it weren’t for Amazon’s habit of turning off buy buttons to punish publishers who won’t give it the terms it wants. Now whenever it happens even by accident, everybody has to wonder, if only for a little while—is this the start of some new offensive by Amazon? Is some new explosion in the offing?

As it turns out, it’s better not to ascribe to malice what can be adequately explained by incompetence. Amazon had the buy buttons back up by Friday morning and all was once again right with the world. It was just a technical problem crying wolf. But with the company increasingly asking for more favorable terms when it renegotiates its contracts, who knows when Amazon will next push the big red button for real?

 
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