Is Amazon a “Monopoly” (Or Is The Publishing Industry Too Loose With Its Words)?

Precision of wording is very key in an argument in which you wish to be seen as an intelligent human being.

The Misfortune Of Knowing

Court of Public Opinion_Hachette v Amazon_Misfortune of Knowing BlogIn the ubiquitous, and increasingly annoying, coverage of the Amazon–Hachette dispute, it’s common for those who side with Hachette to assert that Amazon is a “monopoly” without really understanding what that word means.* One example is Steve Wasserman’s chicken-little-esque op-ed that appeared in The Nation (online) earlier this month. He asserts, “the Obama Justice Department, seemingly mesmerized by visions of a digital utopia, is oddly blind to the threat to publishing posed by Amazon’s growing monopoly.”

In response to Wasserman’s op-ed, which calls for the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate Amazon, Max at Litigation and Trial* explores what a monopoly is in economic sense:

A “monopoly” is when one supplier of a particular product or service is able to control the market. That does not remotely describe Amazon: the vast majority of books sold by Amazon are supplied by someone else, i.e., the publisher, and those same books…

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