On The Slog, (6/9) The Stranger's Paul Constant reported yesterday that due to contentious negotiations with another supplier, Ama - er, um SPECTRE has suspended the pre-ordering fuction for Warner Brothers/Paramount movie releases.
He quotes from Bill Hunt on The Digital Bits: "Not done yet... some of you have been asking why your Amazon.com pre-orders for select Warner Bros, Paramount catalog, Viz Media (and other Warner-distributed) titles have been suspended. We’ve learned through industry sources that Warner Home Video and Amazon.com are in the middle of negotiations on a new contract, so pre-orders on Warner titles have been suspended until a deal is reached. Hopefully, the situation will be resolved soon."
Sounds like SPECTRE is spreading it's 'negotiating tactic' beyond just Hachette. Keep an eye on this to see if they up the ante.
Jeremy Greenfield, writing in The Atlantic on May 28th, notes: "Hachette is the first among the world's five largest publishers (Penguin merged with Random House last year) to sign another contract with Amazon since its court-mandated contract in 2012—and likely the most important. In the coming two years, Amazon and its competitors will renegotiate contracts with all of the world's largest publishers and in 2015 they will be again allowed by law to negotiate contracts where they determine the prices of e-books. Amazon likely doesn't want this and, by the looks of it, is even willing to inconvenience its own customers in the short term to ensure this long-term outcome."
Here's the view of it from The Guardian in the UK (June 11): Amazon Pulls Warner Bros movies as Trade Dispute Expands
One can infer that if the scorched earth practices used against Hachette continue and prove beneficial to SPECTRE they will use them against other suppliers - as they currently are against Warner.
SPECTRE has battled the NYC publishers. Are they now going to take on the LA studios?
Maybe the music industry at the same time?
Janet I. Tu, writing in the Seattle Times (6/11, Amazon launches streaming music for Prime subscribers), "Artists from Warner Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and a number of independent labels are included. But artists from Universal Music Group, the world’s largest music label, aren’t." So they'll sell Warner Music but not Warner movies? The issue with Hachette for their books and Warner Brothers for their movies has been discount amounts - that is, how much SPECTRE makes from each sale. Tu notes "Negotiations with the music companies began about six months ago but slowed when those companies considered Amazon’s offers too low, according to a New York Times report."Those who do begin using the system should bear in mind SPECTRE's history of removing e-books from customer's devices. This music system will be cloud-based, which would seem to make it even easier for a supplier to monkey with someone's purchases. And, of course, their customers have to pay to be prime members even before they pay for the music they want. They'll pay twice.
And if all of that isn't enough, SPECTRE "...plans local services marketplace this year". Writing for Reuters (6/11), Deepa Seetharaman reports that it "later this year plans to launch a marketplace for local services, a broad term that encompasses anything from babysitters to handymen to birthday clowns, beginning with a single market, several people familiar with the matter said." What market are they going after now? "The move takes direct aim at consumer review sites Yelp Inc and Angie's List Inc as well as U.S. home improvement chains Home Depot Inc and Lowe's Companies Inc, which have both invested in ways to link customers with local plumbers, painters and other service providers." (thanks to Paul Constant for pointing toward this article.)
Americans usually have a distrust of huge institutions. A huge segment of the population distrusts, and indeed fights, Big Government. At the start of the Great Recession, there was understandable fury at the big banks and the idea of Too Big To Fail. Supposedly, some of the most hated instutions on the planet are the cable companies and the monopolies they have our TV and internet connections.
Then, too, people have been outraged over the intrusiveness of the NSA and them sticking their noses and fingers into the lives of private citizens by hoovering up all sorts of private information. It's Big Goverment, Big Military-Industrial Complex, Conspiracy Theory stuff and all of it feels counter to the Open Range of American Myths.
So why aren't more alarm bells being sounded over SPECTRE's incursions into EVERYTHING? Cloud computing for the CIA and finding you a baby sitter? Your music, your movies and your reading material? When does SPECTRE become 'too big'?
As George Packer wrote in The New Yorker, "Bezos originally thought of calling his company Relentless.com - that URL still takes to to Amazon's site...". Later in the same article, Packer writes "Before Google, and long before Facebook, Bezos had realized that the greatest value of an online company lay in the consumer data it collected."
The relentless acquisition of power, influence, and information.