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Amazon as friend and foe

Clint Greenleaf on the challenges of working with and competing against Amazon.

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This post is part of the TOC podcast series. You can also subscribe to the free TOC podcast through iTunes.


June’s TOC theme was “retailing,” and we wrapped things up with a discussion about the biggest retailer of them all: Amazon. Clint Greenleaf (@clintgreenleaf), founder and CEO of Greenleaf Book Group, offers a unique perspective, as his company is both a publisher and a distributor. He opened up about the challenges of both working with and competing against Amazon.

Key points from the full video interview (below) include:

  • Amazon as friend and foe — Bezos & Co. represent about half of Greenleaf’s sales. Clint reminisces about the good old days when Amazon was an exciting startup and how they’ve evolved into a behemoth that exerts a lot of control. [Discussed at 1:08.]
  • Odd that Amazon isn’t on DOJ’s radar — Clint doesn’t see anyone who’s able to challenge Amazon’s position today or in the near future, and wonders why the DOJ is so focused on other players who have helped level the playing field. [Discussed at 2:05.]
  • Apple’s role — It’s ironic that ebooks are such a small part of the iTunes ecosystem and that a number of reports have shown how prices actually declined after Apple entered the ebook market. [Discussed at 2:46.]
  • Amazon’s Kindle Owner’s Lending Library — Clint isn’t a fan of the flat fee Amazon pays publishers, but he does see the promotional and visibility benefits of it. [Discussed at 3:40.]
  • Will ebooks represent half of publisher sales by 2016? A recent PwC report projects ebooks will represent the majority of trade publishers’ sales in four years, but Clint feels it will happen even sooner. [Discussed at 4:50.]
  • Future of eInk devices — Hybrid or dual-surface displays are the future. eInk isn’t likely to go away, as it’s superior to the backlit experience outdoors. [Discussed at 6:03.]

You can view the entire interview in the following video.

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