Mapping the e-book wars

By Laurie Bennett

July 1, 2012 at 10:22am

“To own a certain book – one you had chosen yourself – was to define yourself,” writes Julian Barnes.

Despite his belief in the survival of the physical book and the physical book shop, some of the world’s largest companies have a similar view about the e-book industry.

Titans such as Apple, Google, Amazon, Sony and Microsoft are vying for majority stakes in digital readers and distribution.

The Big 6 Publishers, along with mammoth parent companies such as News Corp., CBS and Bertelsmann, are struggling to maintain control of content in an age where content channels and business models shift constantly.

The Muckety map above shows not only these corporate relationships, but the intervention of antitrust regulators.

In April, the Justice Department filed suit against Apple and five of the six publishers for e-book price fixing. The publishers had joined with Apple after becoming increasingly concerned about Amazon’s discount pricing for the Kindle.

Three of the publishers - Hachette Book Group, Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins - have agreed to a settlement.

Amazon has launched its own publishing division. And Microsoft, not wanting to miss out on an emerging market, has pledged to invest $605 million in Barnes and Noble’s Nook operations.

Now another giant, Google, has entered the fray, launching its own reader, the Nexus 7.

One would hope that the growing crowd at the top of our map is good news for the publishers at the bottom.

What this means for the reading public is unclear, particularly during these early phases, when it takes hacking skills to convert one reader format to another.

Once again, we’re reminded of railroad barons using different-gauge tracks in their efforts to push out competitors.

As Macmillan CEO John Sargent says in a recent New Yorker article by Ken Auletta:

“These are huge companies, who are fighting a very large game.” Books, he said, are “in danger of becoming roadkill in that larger war.”

Added note: In case you missed it, be sure to read the recent Wall Street Journal article on e-book distributors’ newfound ability to gather information about you as you read. Consumer data mining is one of the reasons major corporations are so interested in this market.

Follow Muckety on Twitter Tweet This! Share on Facebook

Click here to sign up for the Muckety Newsletter

This post is tagged with: , , , , ,
 Read related stories: Books · Business · Recent Stories  


  • There are no comments yet, be the first by filling in the form below.

Leave a Comment

The relationship map to the left is interactive.
• Solid lines are current relations. Dotted lines are former relations.
• Expand items with + signs by double-clicking or by selecting multiple items in the map and pressing the "e" key.
• Move an item in the map by clicking and dragging.
• You can also delete items, separate boxes and save maps. Right-click on the map or select Map Tools for these options.
• Find out more about an item in the map by right-clicking on the item and choosing Information about...
• View map color key.
• This interactive map requires Flash player.

  • The enormity of the U.S. Intelligence Community
    February 16, 2017 at 8:58am

    As it struggles to assemble a cabinet and to replace a national security adviser who has resigned and a labor secretary nominee who has withdrawn, the Trump administration takes on a new challenge: stanching leaks from U.S. intelligence.

    Immigration ban strains Trump relations with Silicon Valley
    January 30, 2017 at 9:06am

    Seven weeks ago, the president-elect made nice with the titans of tech, sitting down with them at Trump Tower and pledging government support.

    Coming together
    January 22, 2017 at 1:25pm

    From above, from the bird’s eye view of helicopters or satellites, the crowd was massive.

    The Davos elite
    January 19, 2017 at 8:22am

    The annual meeting in Davos brings together the elite of business and foreign relations - the supposed antithesis of Donald Trump’s views on governance.

    In a typical cabinet, Elaine Chao would be one of the richest
    January 12, 2017 at 8:37am

    When critics complain about the big-money nominees in Donald Trump’s cabinet, they focus on billionaire investor Wilbur Ross (Commerce), Amway in-law Betsy DeVos (Education), former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson (State) and Goldman Sachs alum Steve Mnuchin (Treasury).

    More stories →

Become a fan of Muckety on Facebook

  • Search for stories
    Special Features

Follow Muckety on Twitter Follow Muckety on Twitter
Muckety has no direct connection to most of the people or organizations listed on these pages.
We are unable to forward personal messages or provide personal contact information.
We make every effort at Muckety to ensure that our data is correct and timely. However, relationships are in constant flux and we cannot guarantee accuracy. If you come across incorrect or outdated information, please let us know by email.
© 2017 Muckety LLC