Some people still buy books -- and even buy them in paper format. So Barnes & Noble's decision to block books published by Amazon is fightin' words! But how much does it matter, and who's getting hurt?
It doesn't really matter, and nobody's really getting hurt right now. Amazon's proprietary publishing arm puts out very, very, very few important names -- unless you consider James Franco a literary icon. So not being able to go to your local Barnes & Noble to buy James Franco's sure to be awful novel is pretty marginal. Will this move matter if Amazon Publishing reaches the stature of, say, Simon & Schuster? Yes. Will they? Nobody knows. Until then, here's what Barnes & Noble's Chief Merchandising Officer Brad Stone calls a "declaration of war":
"Barnes & Noble has made a decision not to stock Amazon published titles in our store showrooms. Our decision is based on Amazon's continued push for exclusivity with publishers, agents and the authors they represent. These exclusives have prohibited us from offering certain eBooks to our customers. Their actions have undermined the industry as a whole and have prevented millions of customers from having access to content. It's clear to us that Amazon has proven they would not be a good publishing partner to Barnes & Noble as they continue to pull content off the market for their own self interest. We don't get many requests for Amazon titles, but If customers wish to buy Amazon titles from us, we will make them available only online at bn.com."
Oh, look, B&N actually will sell Amazon's stuff, directly from its website. So this is purely posturing and weak-necked posturing at that. [Brad Stone]