http://www.newser.com/story/258923/we-s ... noble.htmlBarnes & Noble is in real danger of disappearing, and that has David Leonhardt of the New York Times worried. This isn't just a case of a corporate giant being unable to keep up with the new age, he writes. It's the result of a misguided government policy about monopolies that goes back to the 1970s. Around then, the government view that all monopolies are evil began to shift; the new idea was that behemoths weren't bad as long as prices stayed low, and that policy has resulted in "leniency, under both parties, toward technology giants that have come to resemble monopolies." Amazon, and its impact on the book business, is a case in point. So what's wrong with the emphasis on low prices? Two things, writes Leonhardt.
I remember when they were as despised as Walmart for most of the same reasons; they decimated other (mostly alley-type) bookstores, whose names I can't even remember because they were so destroyed. Lower prices, better selection, feel free to sit and read in one of our comfortable easy chairs, here's a nice cappuccino while you decide. I loved them (and still do on rare occasion). They were as friendly as a library with sexy librarians bringing you a latte and fluffing your pillow.
The ebook killed them, but at least they almost won that one. So now they must be defended with utter bullshit.
First, "prices are not a broad enough measure of well-being," he writes. "If prices stay low but wages don't grow—which is, roughly, what's happened in recent decades—consumers aren't better off." Second, regulators focus on short-term prices and sometimes ignore what happens when one company conquers its rivals. (Amazon just raised the price of Prime.) Leonhardt likes Amazon as a consumer, "but I am also starting to wake up to the deep problems created by corporate behemoths." Specifically, "they have the power to hold down wages, avoid taxes, squash competition, and produce a less vigorous economy." He's holding out hope that the government once again takes a dim view toward them, and he's rooting for Barnes & Noble in the meantime.
I cannot stomach such a sad defense as that. How about a real defense like ... there isn't one. Customers are actually better off. I still like going there but if they disappeared I would not read less. Ebooks did this to them. They tried to corner that market too but failed. I'm not going to kick that dead horse.
Stop reading in the gutter.