Even more awkwardly for publishers, Amazon is their largest retailer, so they are now in the position of having to compete against an important business partner. On the West Coast people cheerfully call this kind of arrangement coopetition. On the East Coast it’s usually referred to as getting stabbed in the back.
I love that. Whether or not it's more common in some geographical areas or not, it's a great difference in outlook on life and business: you can see it as a cheerful game, you-loose-some-you-win-some kind of thing, or you can see it as a deadly competition, only the last to stand is the winner, and everybody is an enemy unless they're a temporary ally...
It must be a very joyless life to have the latter kind of outlook. I mean, how can you possibly win? Even if you get to be King of the Hill like Microsoft once was, suddenly a new platform is the big new thing, and they jog past you. How much more fun to not care if you're the biggest and baddest, and instead just enjoy making good stuff which makes your customers happy. If you have that and it keeps bread on the table, that's the good part. Grinding the faces of competitors into the cold mud on the way seems a bit of a cheerless game.
Of course the fears can be understandable:
Book publishing, an inefficient industry if there ever was one, seems ripe for reimagining. According to a recent report by the Association of American Publishers, sales of adult paperbacks and hardcovers fell 18 percent between 2010 and 2011.
Ouch! Eighteen percent! That should give pause for thought amongst believers that paper will never go away. (Well, it probably won't, but it'll be marginalized dramatically, like music on vinyl. The upshot is that we may see some really beautiful works of art in future paper books, because they have to make most of the medium.)
But trying to stop your little ice floe from melting won't help. Sooner or later you have to set out for a different life support. You may find one, or not, but the ocean doesn't care, sad at that may be.