Amazon is locked in a death struggle with book publishers—particularly Hachette, which is openly throwing down against the online behemoth. And "while Amazon may be the worst thing to have ever hit the book business," writes Michael Wolff at USA Today, dealing with the predominant booksellers (Barnes & Noble, anyone?) of the past "was hardly a walk in the park." Book publishers have been out of the book-selling business for so long that they've allowed those doing the actual peddling to virtually write their own tickets. Now, with Amazon's writing on the wall, writes Wolff, it's time for publishers to seize their destinies—with brick-and-mortar independent bookstores that deal in "artisanal selling, a kind of Brooklynization of the book business."
"Amazon does not care about books," he argues, but rather books as vehicles for "new technology and hardware and entertainment products," which ultimately leave "books and publishers as cultural detritus." But to prevail, publishers need to focus on the physical book, "the true book," and stop flooding the market with garbage. In a dueling column in the New York Times today, Paul Krugman also looks at whether Amazon is wielding "robber-baron-type market power" in the industry, answering "definitely." But rather than acting as a monopoly to jack prices, he says that, thus far, Amazon "is acting as a monopsonist, a dominant buyer with the power to push prices down." Which brings us to the heart of the matter: "What matters is whether it has too much power, and is abusing that power. Well, it does, and it is." Click for Wolff's full column, or for Krugman's full column.