From today’s Times: “Amazon’s competitors are trying to seize the advantage [from Amazon's disagreement with book publisher Hachette]. Walmart.com is promoting Hachette titles at 40 percent off, and said Friday that its online book sales had jumped as a result.” Yup, that’s the way competition works, great to see it in action. Other competitors are surely doing the same.
Longer term, we’ll probably see the publishing business shrink. It’s now easy for authors to work directly with retailers (think about how iTunes works for musicians), so it’s not clear we need anyone in the middle. Here are two examples. For small businesses, the costs of entry have never been lower. Another consequence is that the services offered by publishers are likely to unbundle: editing, marketing, and so on can easily be purchased separately, and in fact they are. Bad news for publishers, but probably good news for the rest of us, including authors.