At Digital Book World this morning, Mike Shatzkin quizzed his panel of publishing thinkers about the Amazon (AMZN) hold over the industry. “Amazon has 80 or 90 percent of the book buying [market] online and 80 or 90 percent of the ebooks [market]. Those are the only parts of the business that are growing. Every other part of the business is shrinking … Will we see a change in this hegemony?” he asked.
Ken Brooks from Cengage Learning had these thoughts: “The share that Amazon has almost has to fall. There are good alternatives that are being introduced every day … I think eventually it will be an open platform.”
Next, Evan Schnittman from Black Plastic Glasses had these thoughts: “I think Google Editions will be a major balancer in the world of eBooks. Search, find, buy in one fluid package [in online marketplaces] will help re-balance the world we live in now … Amazon is our biggest customers in this industry, there will be some serious thinking before we work around them.”
Larry Kirshbaum–a literary agent and former TimeWarner Books CEO–had a different perspective: “Let’s look at this from the consumer’s point of view, the consumer is getting a fabulous book in a really readable format … Even milliseconds can matter in transmission. The idea that the consumer is being forced to adapt to other formats is a tremendous waste … Long term I would like to see a non-proprietary world where the content competes across platforms.”
Michael Cader from Publishers Lunch concluded: “We should take to heart very seriously how much price has driven the eBook market thus far…We’re really focused on the things we think are reading devices. But the explosion that’s about to happen is with devices where reading isn’t the primary function, or even the secondary or tertiary function.”