New York Times - E-Books, Amazon, and Apple

    Posted by David Marshall

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    Three interrelated articles in the Business Day section of the New York Times today (4-16-12) about Amazon, Apple, and e-books tell a story of an industry in turmoil.

    Book Publishing's Neal Nemesis (front page) - Technology reporter David Carr identified Amazon as the real monolith of the book publishing industry, not Apple and the publishers named in the U.S. Justice Department suit. It's not new information, but what's new for me is that a respected journalist is making the same arguments as the accused publishers.

    Daring to Cut Off Amazon (front page) - A small publisher in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Educational Development Corporation, with $26 million in annual revenues, made news by giving Amazon the boot.  The CEO Randell White sacrificed $1.5 million (6% of revenues) in Amazon revenue because he was so concerned that Amazon was "squeezing everyone out of business." When he told his distributor Baker and Taylor to stop selling to Amazon, Baker and Taylor refused, so he fired Baker and Taylor as well. Instant folk hero?

    E-Book Strategy Fails for Apple, to Little Effect (Bits section) - Eddy Cue, the head of iTunes at Apple, sent an email to Steve Jobs a year before the iPad debut saying "It would be very easy for us to compete and and I think trounce Amazon by coming out with our own e-book store."  This hasn't come to pass because Amazon and Kindle have continued to dominate the e-book market, but the iPad has done very well for other reasons.

    Together, these three articles show an industry in disruption. People may argue whether its positive creative disruption or destructive disruption for the book publishing industry, but there's no doubt that a sea change is underway.