David Streitfeld

Ellen Harvey is the associate/digital editor of Book Business and Publishing Executive.

You don't have to walk very far to bump into someone offering an assessment of "the future of the book". Many of these assessments feel like an extension of the current situation, though a touch more "digital". Relatively few get at "what reading could be."

A think piece by New York Times reporter David Streitfeld provides an example of the "extension" school of thought. Streitfeld has written a number of articles about "Amazon's diminishing discounts", a focus that perhaps inevitably led him to explore "the future of the book".

I buy a lot of stuff from Amazon. Chances are you do, too.

I used to feel pretty good about the e-tailer. Now, increasingly, I feel a little dirty every time I patronize it.

For one thing, its nearly yearlong price-setting war with Hachette -- which quietly wrapped up in December with Amazon more or less folding and allowing the book publisher to determine its own e-book prices -- still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Ebooks are feeling a bit hungover heading into the new year. The 50 Shades of Grey exuberance of 2011 and 2012 feels long ago. The first seemingly viable ebook subscription services launched at the end of 2013 (Scribd, Oyster) and Amazon launched its own ebook subscription service, Kindle Unlimited, mid-2014.

The main difference between Kindle Unlimited and Scribd and Oyster - all of which cost around $10 a month - is that Kindle Unlimited has way fewer books that people have heard of. That's because Scribd and Oyster have been able to attract big-5 publishers

Anybody who reads Amazon's latest volley in the Amazon-Hachette war and then David Streitfeld's takedown of it on the New York Times's web site will know that Amazon - either deliberately or with striking ignorance - distorted a George Orwell quote to make it appear that he was against low-priced paperbacks when he was actually for them.

This recalls the irrelevant but delicious irony that the one time Amazon exercised its ability to claw back ebooks it had sold was when they discovered that they were selling unauthorized ebooks of Orwell's "1984″.

There’s been a lot of speculation lately around Amazon’s long-term strategic intentions and its overall modus operandi. David Streitfeld’s New York Times blog opined that, ”it has made the future of bookselling seem as if it will inevitably be owned by Amazon.” Others have been very quick to pick up on the organizational and technological pincer [...]

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