Dear Amazon

I find it more than a little amusing that you have joined the "Open Book Alliance" alongside such other defenders of the common writer as Microsoft and Yahoo. Wouldn't have anything to do with the notion that Google dumping hundreds of thousands of ad-supported, open-format books on the web might harm your proprietary Kindle format or current near-stranglehold on the e-book market, now would it? I guess it's cynical of me to assume something like that, but one thing I've learned is that when it comes to money, one can never be too cynical.

Mind you, my cynicism isn't coming just from my distrust of corporations--I think that there are some concerns to address in this Google deal, such as whether or not this is a one-time license that Google will be granted and no one else will be able to follow in their footsteps. But in your case, Amazon, I'm particularly cynical, since this is in the Open Book Alliance's Mission Statement:

The Open Book Alliance will work to advance and protect this promise. And, by protecting it, we will assert that any mass book digitization and publishing effort be open and competitive. The process of achieving this promise must be undertaken in the open, grounded in sound public policy and mindful of the need to promote long-term benefits for consumers rather than isolated commercial interests.

The Open Book Alliance will counter Google, the Association of American Publishers and the Authors’ Guild’s scheme to monopolize the access, distribution and pricing of the largest digital database of books in the world. To this end, we will promote fair and flexible solutions aimed at achieving a more robust and open system.
Bolding is mine.

Tell me, Amazon, how does that mission statement jibe with your company's closed-source practices with the Kindle? Are we going to be hearing an announcement from you saying that you're changing your posture so that books purchased from other publishers will be readable on the Kindle, or that Amazon e-books will readable on non Amazon-approved readers? Somehow I doubt it.

I don't blame you for going after this deal, just as I don't blame Microsoft and Yahoo for doing what they can to try to close off a potentially (but by no means guaranteed) revenue stream from a rival. It's a good business decision. But to do so under the auspices of something called the "Open Book Alliance" when you have shown nothing but hostility to open-source e-books is hypocritical in the extreme.

Update: And Sony has chosen sides too--with Google, to absolutely no one's surprise. But at least they're up front about why they're doing it.
In Sony Electronics’ view, the cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship the Settlement forges between Google and the copyright holders in the proposed class may have a profoundly positive impact on the market for e-book readers and related devices.
It's all about the ducats.

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