When Amazon becomes the only one on the mountain, what then?


I had an interesting conversation on Twitter. It was about Amazon's current take over of the ebook market and the future.

The question is, what happens when Amazon is the only one on the moutain?

Many will say this is already true. Yes, Amazon is on top, but there are still other players on the moutain, in positions that could directly affect the ebook king.

But let's speculate about a scenario where there is no Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes bookstore, or any other major competitor. They've either been forced out of business or bought out by Amazon itself.

(Disclaimer: Apple is probably too big to be taken down by Amazon. In this scenario, Apple has decided to close the iTunes bookstore or it's such a minor player as to not make a difference.)

Under the above scenario, what becomes of ebooks, Indie authors, authors in general, and the publishing industry as a whole?

That's a loaded question, one I will not answer completely in this post. I will focus on the Indie author. That's who I fight for, anyway.

The Future of the Indie

I think the future of the Indie is best described in the name they have adopted: indie. They are independant, in control of their own destiny.

Having said that, though, Amazon's ability to stay at the top of the moutain will depend on their own decisions.

If Amazon continues to treat authors — especially Indies — with even a minor modicum of respect, they will remain the king of the ebook. If Indies are content with how they are treated by Amazon (royalty percentage and so forth), they will continue to distribute their words of wisdom through them.

What if Amazon takes too much?

The scenario is quite different if Amazon is too ruthless. If Indies are not happy with Amazon, they do have choices.

But, if Amazon is the only game in town, who will an Indie go to?

If an Indie can make more money distributing their own books, wouldn't they do just that? I think so.

If an Indie sells 100 copies via Amazon and only makes $10 in profit, but can make $20 when he/she sales only 10 copies via their own blog or publisher's website, wouldn't they drop Amazon if it benefited them? I think so.

What about you?

Exactly how this future would play out is anyone's guess, but from my limited knowledge of history in general and about monopolies specifically, I would guess that Amazon's take over would not be permanent and perhaps not even complete at any point in the timeline.