To study the graph of Amazon’s stock performance in 2015 is to witness a series of stepwise lurches toward commanding new heights. Over all, the stock market has been flat this year, and technology companies, as a group, haven’t fared much better. Then there’s Amazon, which slipped the atmosphere. Shares of Jeff Bezos’s company have…
Can you believe those...those...those...sons of bitches at Amazon? After launching almost 20 years ago and making virtually every book-new, used, dead-tree, electronic, audio, and I'm guessing any day now, olfactory-available to everyone in America at good-to-great prices, the company's true character now stands revealed. It's not pretty, folks. Despite a huge market share, Amazon apparentlystill wants books, especially the e-books that everyone agrees are the future of the medium, to be cheaper than what publishers and big-name authors want you to pay for them.
The head of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. WMT -0.37% 's e-commerce efforts predicted that the retailer would be able to match the service offerings of competitor Amazon.com Inc. AMZN -1.57% within two years.
In a private interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Wal-Mart global e-commerce CEO Neil Ashe said that the company was continuing to build out new warehouses across the country used to distribute online orders.
Recently my friend Mike Shatzkin asked me to participate in a panel on Amazon at Digital Book World. Mike asked all the panelists a question that I want to attempt to answer at greater length than I was able to at the conference. The question was in two parts: first, how much more market share can Amazon amass before it slows down or is stopped? Second, who can put together a meaningful merchandising service that could take share from Amazon?
On the surface, it looked like business as usual at this year's Digital Book World conference in New York City earlier this week, with no groundbreaking announcements, no radical plans hatched to transform the book business as we know it. But as always, when publishers convene to discuss the state of the industry, a few ideas emerge.
Teens Not Reading for Fun
Of the news repeated over-and-over again in private conversation, it was that a recent Nielsen Books survey revealed 41% of teenagers aged 13-17 said that they do not read books for fun.
When Terry McMillan published "Waiting to Exhale" in 1992, it was a game-changer. It sold 4 million copies, spent 38 weeks on the bestseller list, and showed the publishing world that there was an audience for the stories of intelligent, successful, flawed and still-struggling women who were solidly middle-class and black.
Amazon prides itself on unraveling the established order. This fall, signs of Amazon-inspired disruption are everywhere.There is the slow-motion crackup of electronics showroom Best Buy. There is Amazon’s rumored entry into the wine business, which is already agitating competitors. And there is the merger of Random House and Penguin, an effort to create a mega-publisher sufficiently hefty to negotiate with the retailer on equal terms. Amazon inspires anxiety just about everywhere, but its publishing arm is getting pushback from all sorts of booksellers.
Despite its almost mythical dominance in book retailing, Amazon has struggled mightily to crack the publishing business. While it sells millions of copies of other publishers’ books, Amazon can’t quite seem to get its own books off the ground and onto the bestseller charts, according to a recent Wall Street Journal piece that examined the online retailer’s publishing woes.
Case in point: Penny Marshall’s memoir, “My Mother Was Nuts.”
Late last week Wal-Mart announced that it will no longer sell the Amazon Kindle and Kinde Fire in its stores, joining Target in in rejecting the devices. While the argument could be made that the razor-thin margins on those products contributed to that decision, the real reason is clearer: Amazon's tablets are a gateway to easy ordering from Amazon.com, which means fewer sales for Target and Wal-Mart.
The investment community is patting Walmart on the head today for booting Amazon’s line of Kindle devices out of its 10,000 stores. The Kindle, the conventional wisdom has it, is a “Trojan horse” that converts flesh-and-blood Walmart into web surfers who do their shopping via Amazon’s vast online marketplace. As FORBES contributor Tim Worstall puts it, “After all, who really wants to aid their direct competitors?”