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Update, about 2:32 p.m.: Amazon has returned after being offline for at least an hour, but the lessons below still apply. – D.R.

amazonhdqAnyone else having trouble reaching Amazon.com (old headquarters photo shown)? Neither Jon Noring (in Utah) nor I (in Northern Virginia) can get through. I’ve been trying for perhaps an hour.

All I see in Firefox is a  "Service Unavailable" message. Let’s hope this is just a maintenance issue—the most likely possibility by far—rather than a denial-of-service attack. Whatever the reason, I wouldn’t wish the TeleBlog’s downtime Hell on anyone.

Meanwhile imagine what even a few minutes of interruption will cost Jeff Bezos and friends. And what about Amazon’s cloud computing side—or what this could mean for the online approach to books, rather than locally stored files? Will customers, especially large companies, be as likely to trust the Amazon cloud?

At any rate, I’ve never run into an Amazon interruption this long. Probably it’s all a rather routine problem. But who knows? Imagine commercial ramifications if this goes on.

Of would-be monopolies and downtime

I wish Jeff Bezos all the luck in the world, but as Jon Noring has just noted to me via IM, and as I’d agree, this is one more example of the risk of the U.S. book industry relying too much on one company—whether for regular paper books, print on demand books or electronic books, especially DRMed ones that consumers don’t own for real.

CBS Marketwatch has noticed the outage (though we may well have beaten them to it). Feel free to use the comment area to share your own thoughts on this.

Mobi downtime not the only tech glitch

On the CBS site, as I’m writing this update, commenters are observing that this isn’t the first brush that Amazon has had with technical problems—and I don’t just mean the Mobi hassles. Several weeks ago, says one Amazon fan, the company was hours late in sending out e-mailed notices of book orders—important since "booksellers have two business days to fulfill orders" (read the full post for details).

Meanwhile another commenter says Amazon claimed that the site was down for "routine maintenace." Sure—in the afternoon on the U.S. East Coast? And without warning? Not the best news for company’s credibility, if others use the same excuse.

(Updated at 3:22 p.m. Eastern Daylight. I first notice the outage around 1:30 p.m.)

Related: Techmeme roundup, including items from CNet, VentureBeat and Mashable

 
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