So our Kindle smackdown is a thing of the past. When I browse through the comments, I see that some people thought we were being unfair. And sure, there is an argument to be made there. If Amazon wanted to respond, they could make a video of someone carrying a box of books onto a plane, and compare it with a happy traveler pulling a slim Kindle out of their carry-on. But then we could respond (production budget allowing) with that reader having to turn off his book during takeoff and landing or, even worse, realizing that he's left his Kindle in the seat pocket in front of him.
We referenced the Nicholson Baker New Yorker piece a few times. If you read it, at the end he ends up reading a book on his iphone, and finds it a much more pleasurable experience. So his article is specifically critical of the Kindle, not of e-books in general, and I think that's where we fall.
I'm starting to think of Amazon as basically a criminal enterprise. It is the natural course of capitalism for companies to expand, to be predatory, to want to crush the competition. It's what makes capitalism work, until a company gets too big, and it becomes counterproductive. A recent example being Microsoft getting taken down for trying to be the world's only personal computing software maker. And now Amazon is following that model.
Amazon already claims to be "earth's biggest bookstore," but it seems they aim to be earth's only bookstore. Two examples:
1) When they decided they would go into the e-reader business, Amazon made their e-reader proprietary. The only reason to do this is so that owners of the device are forced to buy their product from one source. If Amazon were to be successful in driving all of their competitors out of business, then for all practical purposes one would have to buy a Kindle to read an e-book. Personally I feel pretty certain the Kindle is doomed, for the basic reason that the iphone (and its competitors) do the same job and oh so much more for significantly less money. But Amazon's intent seems obvious: to control the market.
2) In the last few months, Amazon has dumped their affiliates in North Carolina and Hawaii, hurting a lot of small businesses. The reason? To raise the ire of people like this, and to intimidate larger states like California and New York into dropping their sales tax parity efforts. Amazon makes a lot of money from their affiliates, and I'm guessing there is no way they would dump all of the affiliates in a state like California, but they're willing to hurt a bunch of tiny little businesses in North Carolina to make their point. Sounds like it's time for a RICO investigation.