The moral of Cablevision vs. ABC as far as the publishing industry is concerned is that consumers have no patience for such arcane issues as windowing, loss leader pricing or agency business models. They expect their book when they hit Download and they want it at a reasonable price. Educational initiatives are a waste of time. We need to get our pricing act together. Though there is no Academy Awards show to bring us to the brink of catastrophe, the e-book industry will not realize its full potential until we provide our products reliably and at prices that make sense to customers.
Likewise, Nat Torkington sees a similar squeeze in Amazon’s recent decision to discontinue its Associates program in Colorado, in response to the new sales-tax-for-online-retailers law there:
So let me get this straight: I’ve done nothing, and Amazon just fired me? Now, I haven’t used referrals a whole lot so it doesn’t hit me in the pocketbook but this should send chills down the spine of anyone who thought they were building a business, or at least an income, around Amazon services. It’s one thing to be fired for something you did (hey doofus, don’t cause a heap of MPAA infringement notices to land on Amazon’s desk because you were running the new Pirate Bay on EC2) but it’s entirely another to be fired for something outside your control.
A farmer friend told me that the goats to keep are female goats: when one doe headbutts another, the recipient then turns to the next in the hierarchy and headbutts them. With male goats, though, you get prolonged headbutt battles that are loud, intimidating, and potentially damaging. Amazon is obviously hoping the female goat scenario plays out: Amazon headbutts me, so I’ll go headbutt my representative— punish Amazon’s associates and hope they’ll pass the pain on. I wonder whether any of Amazon’s (former) Colorado associates will turn out to be male goats who, grumpy at being set upon, retaliate….
I guess I might contend that what’s new about this, if anything, is that 1) disputes between corporations and governments are playing themselves out in consumers’ living rooms and 2) consumers are newly empowered to wreak havoc on… somebody (and it’s not always clear whom). I think Curtis’s take on this is basically right, because in the Kindle windowing cases, we’ve already seen Amazon’s customer base retaliate for this kind of e-gamesmanship — and that was without anyone moving to cut off their income stream. There is no clear hierarchical logic to follow. Just more heads to butt.