"If there is going to be a 'Wal-Mart of the Web', it is going to be Walmart.com," says Walmart.com CEO Raul Vazquez. This "Amazon" thing is royally mucking that up, and Walmart's not gonna take it anymore.
The first shot at Amazon reported by the WSJ is kinda weak in the grand scheme of things: Yesterday, Walmart started selling 10 "hotly anticipated" books, like almost-President-of-the-United-States Sarah Palin's Going Rogue for 10 US bucks. The paper kind. For the same price as the pretend books you buy on a Kindle. Amazon fired a volley back, matching the price. Walmart went to its classic $US9 position this morning. Ker-plow.
This is apparently deeply frightening to publishers. Why? Because once people expect a book for $US10, they're not gonna pay $US28 for it, which would seriously alter the economy of the publishing industry. And I mean, they're already deathly afraid of the very uncertain future of publishing. A standard $US10 price would make books feel more disposable — granted, this is the future that's coming with eBooks anyway.
Walmart actually still makes a bit of money at that price — and obviously Amazon does hawking eBooks for that much. The people this would seriously screw are independent booksellers, who couldn't scrape by on margins that low. Which makes you wonder how they're going to continue existing in a world where we're all buying books, for cheap, on tablets. Amazon and Walmart's likely just the beginning of the end. [WSJ Image via Ryan Conway/Brave New Films/Flickr]