Seni Glaister, CEO of UK indie bookseller The Book People, has said that it is impossible to compete with Amazon. She calls on the UK government to intervene. From The Bookseller:
“Amazon is justified in thinking it owns the e-book market, they created it,” she said. “But as a reader, as a consumer and as a parent, this dominant force makes me extremely nervous. Amazon is now dominant to the point it is now unassailable.”
She said industry leaders had done their best to step in and help to shift the power. However, “without significant government intervention, it is impossible to compete”, she said. “Without in-app purchasing, it is impossible for competition to flourish.”
The Book People had felt a duty to be in the e-books market, but it was ‘impossible” to do whilst contending with Amazon’s locked-in system, Glaister said. “We must convince the government to intervene and remove some barriers to competition. Does it matter there are only one or two e-book players? Yes it does. If we do not try to intervene and change then we will find ourselves with only one player. That would be a disastrous and sad ending.”
If we take her speech to its logical conclusion, she thinks B&N, Kobo and all of the indie ebookstores are doomed. She also thinks that the folks who started competing ebookstores like Oyster, Bilbary, The Reading Room, and Zola Books (just to name 4) are foolish for starting companies that are inevitably going to fail.
And she must also think that the venture capitalists have wasted the millions of dollars they invested in each of the startups mentioned above.
I think she’s full of it.
While I don’t claim to have a crystal ball which will tell me the future of the ebook market, I do think that all of the interest and money going into indie ebookstores is worth noting. There are investors that think that indie ebookstores can compete with Amazon, and they’re putting money where their mouth is.
I’m not sure that the indies will succeed, but interest in new startups and the millions of dollars of capital does make me think that the chance of success is better than zero.