Joan Lappin: the rise of Amazon

Joan Lappin opened with a bit of history on Amazon. It began as an online book retailer, then moved into music next, then outward to selling other products. The company has made an enormous number of sales of sales, but has operated at a loss since the beginning. Only now is the company beginning to make money, and it’s through the web services it offers, not the books, music, movies, or groceries.

While Amazon has opened its doors to self-published authors, they aren’t going to make real money unless they sell thousands of copies. For example, the books read via the new Prime Unlimited only pay 14 cents to the author per copy downloaded.

Amazon has gone into the publishing business themselves, with many imprints (FYI-Thomas and Mercer is the mystery imprint). An independent author can promote their book by paying for better placement on the site, but one presumes that a book’s placement would also be excellent if it were published by Amazon.

Since the company seems to now control the book market from publishing to delivery, we discussed whether it could be broken up by the government as a monopoly. Janet Heijens theorized that Jeff Bezos (Amazon’s owner) would break up the company himself before that happened, perhaps first by spinning the delivery service off into its own company.

Overall, it was an educational meeting.