Don’t horse with our POD biz model, equestrian publisher warns—and complains about Amazon to U.S. Justice Dept.
May 28, 2008 | 9:48 am
In geography and tech, it’s a long way from Seattle-based Amazon.com to the horse country of Kentucky. But Jeff Bezos should beware anyway. Some members of the horsey set just might fly or ride out to Washington state to bean him with an iron shoe—well, almost.
Enraged by Amazon’s print-on-demand grab, the Long Riders’ Guild Press hasn’t just written the U.S. Justice Department. It’s also complained to Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, whose oh-so-green turf includes prime horse country. Guess where Amazon has a fulfillment center? Lexington, aka "Horse Capital of the World"! Beshear should think beyond the Amazon jobs issue—don’t horses count more in Kentucky than West Coast e-tailers, for example?—and encourage Bezos to rein in his POD people’s excesses. Meanwhile Justice tells the Press that it’s "reviewing your complaint" and considering "any potential antitrust concerns or violations regarding Amazon and Print-on-Demand." For more on the anti-trust angle, see PDF of the anti-trust complaint that BookLocker has filed against Amazon’s so-far-unbridled monopolistic practices in POD.
Of horse travel and e-books: What an obvious pairing. The Press, the very kind of specialized publisher threatened by Amazon’s POD pushiness, focuses on books by and about long-distance horse travelers, including classics such as Isabella Bird‘s Among the Tibetans (LRG edition here, Manybooks.net e-book here). Even short-distance equestrians, however, might enjoy e-books’ readability on PDAs, cell phones and other portable devices, Kindles along them—ugh, if Amazon shapes up. What’s more, with e-books allowing shared annotations, as many envision for the ePub standard, equestrians could swap thoughts not just about the books but actual personal experiences. Too bad Amazon released the Kindle without letting it natively render ePub.
More about Long Riders’ Guild: Here and here. The company’s letter to Justice’s Thomas O. Barnett, an assistant attorney general for anti-trust, describes the firm as "the world’s premier source of equestrian exploration wisdom." Also see information on the founders, Basha and CuChullaine O’Reilly, both as horse-crazed as you would expect. I don’t know if they are Kentucky based (though a whois for their equestrianexplorer.com shows the registrant as the Houston Inn in the Kentucky city of Glasgow). But I suspect that more than a few of their fans are. In the photo that’s CuChullaine touring the Pyramids at Giza. He and his wife are "planning the first non-stop, around-the-world equestrian expedition." Via E, they could carry around thousands of books for overnight stops without stuffing or busting the saddle bag.
Close to home—our own little Amazon connection: Many people who frequent the TeleRead site are interested in the Kindle along with other electronics, as well as, yes, books; and Amazon ads seem one way to help make the TeleRead site sustainable for the long run. To Amazon’s credit, it has not told us what to write, and we’ll zap the ads in a flash if it does.
Still, we cannot help but notice a little detail. Even when we were playing the Amazon advertisements up near the top of the page, the ads were leading to zero sales despite the hundreds of thousands of people visiting us each year. Is someone trying to tell us something? Speak up!
Are your feelings about Amazon a major reason why you’re not clicking? Meanwhile we’ll be experimenting with advertisements from other sources and will welcome further suggestions from members of the TeleRead community. Thanks to those who’ve already shared ideas, especially Richard Crocker (an act all the nicer, given his PDF connections and our friendly disagreement over the format) and Colin Stahl (we’re seeing if we can try out an ad service he suggested).
(Thanks to Beth Wellington for tipping us off about LRG’s Amazon problem.)