October 20, 2014 Last Updated 7:50 am

Paul Krugman weighs in on the Amazon-Hachette battle; more iOS 8-related updates issued

Developers identify issues with Apple’s GM version of iOS 8 that were not there in the beta versions of the software prior to release

The Amazon-Hachette battle over eBook pricing is like a bright light on a warm summer night, attracting an endless number of journalists to weigh in with their opinion, unable to help themselves. The latest to take sides is The New York Times‘ economics columnist Paul Krugman. By the end of the day he’ll probably have wished he hadn’t bothered.

The problem with the whole debate is that one must conduct it with only a few facts at one’s disposal: just what the parties are willing to say publicly. Amazon wants lower eBook prices in order to drive additional sales, it says; Hachette doesn’t want the retailer to control both prices and loyalties, it says. There is, of course, a lot more to it that this, but that is why trying to write on the battle between the parties is a fool’s errand.

Krugman-smThen there are those on the sidelines, including journalists. Everyone has an opinion because everyone sees themselves in some part of the market. Big authors like their advances and the way the system is today (or, rather, how it has been). Everyone else sees themselves as not represented by the big publishing houses and their system.

Krugman, like the Times itself, weighs in on the side of the NYC publishers – no surprise, as Krugman in a bestselling author, publishing through W. W. Norton & Company. His argument is not that Amazon is a monopoly, but a “monopsony” – a market form where only one buyer can dictate terms to many sellers.

“Does Amazon really have robber-baron-type market power?” Krugman writes today. “When it comes to books, definitely. Amazon overwhelmingly dominates online book sales, with a market share comparable to Standard Oil’s share of the refined oil market when it was broken up in 1911. Even if you look at total book sales, Amazon is by far the largest player.”

Krugman admits that Amazon has not been exploiting its position by raising prices, but instead keeping prices low “to reinforce its dominance.”

But Krugman has, to use a different cliché, now entered the minefield and probably will wish he hadn’t bothered. Even with the NYT’s comment moderation policies, the article will surely attract a huge number of comments, many of which will be critical of Krugman’s column. (To be honest, I’m surprised how many readers are agreeing with Krugman’s views, but we’ll see if that changes and readers outside the east coast begin to wake up this morning).

We continue to see secondary app updates being issued following the launch of iOS 8. The issue, it appears, its that apps that seemed to be performing perfectly with the last version of the beta of iOS 8, suddenly have bugs following the actual release of the mobile operating system by Apple. This really shouldn’t happen.

AirbusSAS-ani-smLate last week the app FAST magazine by Airbus was updated for the second time following its iOS 8 update issued on September 19. The app description gives a nice recap of why it has had to issue the latest update:

DPS Engineering has identified a storage location problem with v31 and v32 viewers in the GM version of iOS 8 that was not apparent in the beta versions of iOS 8. This storage location problem adversely impacts a user’s ability to access and download content when upgrading to iOS 8. This problem was corrected.

By “DPS Engineering” one assumes the publisher is referring to Adobe and its version of the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite – the platform used for its Apple Newsstand app. (For a look at the actual digital magazine, see TNM’s original post from last year here.)

One of the last posts from last week was a look at the just released Fires Bulletin digital magazine app. The app has already been updated in order to add iPhone support. (You can read the original post on the digital magazine here.)

  • FALPhil 3 years ago

    It is opinions like Krugman’s that makes one wonder if the Nobel Prizes have any credibility these days.