January 29, 2009
Jeff Bezos to announce that he is the lord god Vishnu
by Dennis Johnson
It started on Monday, when Amazon.com “notified its publisher and author clients that it plans to cease offering e-books in the Microsoft Reader and Adobe e-book formats,” as Calvin Reid reported in a dispatch for Publishers Weekly that was so brief it was as if it didn’t know what it was saying: Yep, from now on, the world’s biggest bookstore announced to unsuspecting customers and totally suspecting publishers, it was the Kindle or Mobipocket formats or nothing. (Both, of course, are owned by Amazon.)
The announcement got almost no attention in the rest of the media, industry or mainstream, although it’s been the subject of considerable chatter in the techie blogosphere. One of the most perceptive commentaries came, bravely enough, from a big-house author, Maya Reynolds (Bad Girl), who noted “This whole thing is about Amazon positioning itself vertically, making it the dominant power in the publishing industry … Amazon now owns pieces of all parts of the chain leading to the consumer.”
So what now? Pretend you’re Steve Jobs, that’s what: “The game is simple: invite the press to a mysterious event. Unveil your new product. Pepper in exclusive access for a particularly eager reporter from Time or Newsweek. Then let the pack compete to hype it onto the front pages of their respective publications. ‘Boom!’ as Jobs would say. You’ve got buzz.” As Brian Caufield reports in a story for Forbes.com, Amazon owner Jeff Bezos has announced an announcement to come at a press event on February 9th in New York (note: company headquarters is in Seattle). He’s acting like it’s a big secret, but meanwhile Caufield reports Amazon has been leaking photos and other info about what Bezos will announce: Kindle 2.
Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House. Follow him on Twitter at @mobylives