Here's the short form of the problem: OMG! The kindle platform is too successful. All the other ebook platforms will die, _especially_ with the DOJ lawsuit for price fixing which was the only thing making them competitive. The DOJ should go after Amazon instead for being a monopoly or monopsony or something. Company town! They'll jack the prices when they drive all the little guys out! Auuuuugh!
Here's my primary respone: Um, if several thousand paper books didn't look me into paper as a platform, I really don't see a few hundred kindle editions locking me into Amazon.
H/T Nate over at The Digital Reader. There's this _amazing_ cart-before-horse error in Stross's post:
"Initially Amazon relied on large warehouses, but as its database expanded they moved to just-in-time ordering, whereby obscure items would be listed as available but only ordered from the supplier when a customer requested one."
Of course, the database without a pre-planned supply chain (idea stolen straight from the very earliest days of Sears, Roebuck, only back then it was on paper) was first and the warehouses were second. Also, and this is not insignificant, the warehouses themselves are just-in-time ordering and constitute a shorten-time-to-consumer measure as well as saving on shipping (but my husband has reminded me that (a) people don't get logistics and (b) attempts to explain logistics make people's eyes glaze over so I'm not going to get into it).
Logistics do matter, however. With Prime, I can buy a book in the middle of the night -- any book I'm likely to think of, altho not _every_ book I've ever thought to want to buy -- and expect it to land on the doorstep with a smile from the UPS guy in a couple days, four at the outside if holidays/weekends/order time frame line up incorrectly. And that's ignoring the ebook option, which really shouldn't be ignored. In theory, if a bookstore was open, I could go to it and get the book, but that would require cooperation from the kiddies and/or childcare (planning, expense) and assumes the bookstore would have it. In the Bad Old Days, before late 1995 when I first ordered from Amazon, I spent a lot of time trying to order things _at_ bookstores. I placed that first order at Amazon after Elliot Bay Books and University Books (two respected independents in Seattle) failed me.
I would also like to point out that reading and trying to understand arguments like those put forth by Stross in the post linked to above have had the exact same effect on me and my husband (and you should understand he identifies as a tax-and-spend Democrat and I'm mostly converted to the same perspective, with strong leanings towards direct redistribution over spending-to-benefit-the-deserving-poor, mostly because of how awful some of those well-meaning programs were in the past): we no longer find arguments about why Wal-Mart is evil particularly compelling. We used to. But not so much any more.
Pretty sure that wasn't the intention.