Ken Auletta stellt ihrem erfreulich ausführlichen Artikel im New Yorker die Frage: „Can the iPad topple the Kindle, and save the book business?“. Er berichtet auch ausführlich über den Preis- und Machtkampf, den sich Apple, Amazon und die Verleger zum Thema Ebooks liefern. Schwerpunkt ist die amerikanische Buchbranche, aber der Artikel ist insgesamt sehr aufschlussreich.
Interessant auch die Passage über die Zukunft des Verleger-Autoren-Verhältnisses:
Amazon seems to believe that in the digital world it might not need publishers at all. In December, the Simon & Schuster author Stephen Covey sold Amazon the exclusive digital rights to two of his best-sellers, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and “Principle-Centered Leadership.” The books were sold on Amazon by RosettaBooks, and Covey got more than half the net proceeds. One publisher said, “What it did for us was confirm that Amazon sees itself as much as a competitor as a retailer. They have aspirations to be a publisher.”
A close associate of Bezos puts it more starkly: “What Amazon really wanted to do was make the price of e-books so low that people would no longer buy hardcover books. Then the next shoe to drop would be to cut publishers out and go right to authors.” Last year, according to several literary agents, a senior Amazon executive asked for suggestions about whom Amazon might hire as an acquisitions editor. Its Encore program has begun to publish books by self-published authors whose work attracts good reviews on Amazon.com. And in January it offered authors who sold electronic rights directly to Amazon a royalty of seventy per cent, provided they agreed to prices of between $2.99 and $9.99. The offer, one irate publisher said, was meant “to pit authors against publishers.”
Grandinetti concedes that Amazon has tried to make more direct deals with authors: “We’re constantly looking for ways we can do something more efficiently.” He suggested that this was nothing new. “There’s a long history of booksellers in the publishing business,” he said, mentioning Barnes & Noble. Major publishers, he points out, all sell books directly to consumers on their Web sites. “It seems like they’re in our business, so it’s a strange argument to worry about this in the other direction,” he said. But publishers’ sales through their own Web sites are negligible, and though Barnes & Noble’s publishing program antagonized publishers, it did not threaten a wholesale devaluation of their products. O’Reilly believes that publishers have good reason to be anxious. “Amazon is a particularly farsighted, powerful, and ruthless competitor,” he says. “I don’t think we’ve seen a business this competitive in the tech space since Microsoft.”