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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

June 6, 2014 at 10:11 AM

Vote: Amazon vs. Hachette

The dispute between Amazon.com and the book publisher Hachette puts Seattle in an uncomfortable position. On the one hand, America’s second most literate city loves reading and independent bookstores. This progressive city can’t be happy with the conditions that many Amazon warehouse workers face. On the other, we are heavily indebted to Jeff Bezos for putting the giant’s headquarters in South Lake Union with the potential for a stunning 40,000 high-paid jobs.

The reader should know that Hachette is not my publisher and my novels are carried on Amazon as well as in bookstores. As they would say in the South, my dog’s sitting on the porch (but he’s uncomfortable).

Amazon’s tough tactics have caused layoffs at Hachette. The fight has consequences for the future of ideas. It throws down complications for small publishers. Stephen Colbert is not happy. Or is Amazon really the tribune of average authors? Either way, it may be practicing what economists call “monopsony,” defined in this New York Times op-ed:

Unlike a monopoly, which occurs when a seller of goods has the power to unlawfully raise prices of what it sells, a monopsony occurs when a buyer of goods has the power to unlawfully lower the prices of what it buys. Each violates antitrust laws: As the Supreme Court has long recognized, they both result in a misallocation of resources that harms consumers and distorts markets.

What do you think?

This Week’s Links:

The jobs report: Steady as she goes, but she needs to go faster | Jared Bernstein

Why are conservatives attacking market-based climate options | Economist’s View

Mapping where the minimum wage bites the hardest | BusinessWeek

The newest threat to the middle class: Why private equity is becoming a public problem | Salon

Fining banks is only half the job | Bloomberg View

Growth has been good for decades, so why hasn’t poverty declined? | NY Times

Another day, another bad incentive deal | Middle Class Political Economist

Today’s Econ Haiku:

On fated beaches

Ramps dropped, assault troops stormed out

Liberation’s shore

Comments | More in Amazon.com | Topics: Amazon vs. Hachette

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