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Wednesday: Amazon sued by small merchants; Amazon Prime members stop shopping...

The copyright holder’s rights are not limitless “In copyright jargon, the “first sale” has “exhausted” the copyright owner’s §106(3) exclusive distribution right.” And because the publisher had authorized their production, they were “lawfully made” and thus not subject to geographic limitations and the first sale doctrine applied. Actual decision can be found here (PDF). Scotusblog

“Even more interesting than the growing Prime ranks is what Prime seems to do to subscribers. A 2010 Businessweek story stated that Amazon Prime broke even within three months of launching, not the two years predicted by its creators. That’s because customers spent as much as 150% more at Amazon after they became Prime members. Subscribers not only ordered more often, but after paying the $79 fee, they started buying things at Amazon that they probably wouldn’t have in the past. Since shipping was always speedy and free, members saved themselves a trip to the store for things like batteries and coffee beans. “In all my years here, I don’t remember anything that has been as successful at getting customers to shop in new product lines,” Robbie Schwietzer, vice president of Amazon Prime, told Businessweek.

“To this end, I would like to state somethin g that I hope is uncontroversial. The issues of authors are intertwined with the interests of the public. As the first beneficiaries of the copyright law, they are not a counterweight to the public interest but instead are at the very center of the equat ion. In the words of the Supreme Court, “[t] he immediate effect of our copyright law is to secure a fair return for an ‘author’s’ creative labor. But the ultimate aim is, by this incentive, to stimulate artistic creativity for the general public good. ” 2 Congress has a duty to keep authors in its mind’s eye, including songwriters, book authors, filmmakers, photographers, and visual artists. A law that does not provide for authors would be illogical — hardly a copyright law at all. “ USCO

Bowker Market Research press release sample

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Christine
    Mar 20, 2013 @ 08:20:07

    Amazon Prime is probably one of, if not the smartest move Amazon has made. Ever since I have had it I look there first for things I intend to buy online. Knowing there is free two day shipping is a huge incentive to use it as the shipping costs at other sites can be astronomical. Amazon also wisely allows members to “share” the free two day shipping option with other people of their choice residing at the same address.

  2. library addict
    Mar 20, 2013 @ 08:40:13

    If I had Amazon Prime I could easily see myself shopping for most items there. But since most stuff is eligible for the $25 free shipping I’ve not been able to justify to myself spending the $80. I keep thinking about how many books that would buy me. But if I ever got a tablet, it would be worth it to include the free streaming.

    I wonder how much of the mass merchandisers sales have suffered since Target (somewhat) and Wal-Mart (greatly) have reduced the number of books they carry. I switched my print buying to only them and on-line once Borders closed. Of course, I also buy much less in print now that I’m mostly digital.

  3. Karenmc
    Mar 20, 2013 @ 09:32:03

    I’m one of those Amazon Prime members who hardly ever goes to the store any more. Why fight traffic after a day at work when what you need can show up at your door in two days? Also, the yearly fee is nothing when compared to the cost of extra stuff I used to buy to get to the $25 free shipping limit.

  4. SAO
    Mar 20, 2013 @ 10:07:45

    But the question is, does Amazon make money shipping batteries to people who don’t want to go to the store? Any merchant can get customers to buy stuff from them; the trick is doing it profitably.

    I wonder whether the textbook case will make textbooks more expensive in Thailand — probably only leading to massive pirating — or cheaper in the US. There’s obviously a huge business opportunity on every campus for enterprising students to find the cheapest text across the world and undercut the extortionate US prices.

  5. carmen webster buxton
    Mar 20, 2013 @ 10:14:47

    Amazon Prime is a gateway drug for shopping online! Need some cat treats? Hey, they can be here day after tomorrow, with no trip to the pet supplies store and no shipping costs. Sale! I just ordered some dining room chairs, too.

    The Bowker survey graphic is fascinating. The middle section is actually pretty static over the three years, but the online sales seemed to be stealing sales directly from the chain store purchases. I wonder how much of this is from Borders going under? Also, does this include ebook sales, which are by definition, pretty much always online sales?

  6. Becca
    Mar 20, 2013 @ 10:38:43

    I have a student membership in Prime, but my last few purchases weren’t elegivle for Prime, and I had to pay shipping anyway. I don’t do streaming videos, so I am seriously debating whether to continue Prime when my membership is over.

  7. Carrie G
    Mar 20, 2013 @ 10:41:12

    I don’t know where to put this, but we’ve talked about rape culture on this site before. A friend posted this blog link on facebook and I thought others might want to read it. It’s taken me a while to understand what “rape culture” is. Even with that experience in my own life and family, I didn’t get it for a long time. But I’m getting it now. I’m understanding why putting the pressure on women to dress or act differently is victim blaming.

  8. Sylvie Fox
    Mar 20, 2013 @ 10:47:48

    I avoided Amazon Prime until I got sucked into Amazon Mom. Free prime membership when you have a baby! It lasted two years, and I ended up paying for the third year. I hate in person shopping, so find it a relief. I probably buy more ‘other’ stuff than books. This week – thermos and small electronics.

    On another note, I desperately miss bookstore browsing. But with Borders gone and all but one B&N near me closing, there’s not much available. Our local store (only bookstore within a 5 mile radius of my LA house) is dedicated to Nooks, baby animal calendars, leather journals, and other highly profitable, but useless to me, stuff. I’m one of those people holding out hope that indies make a huge comeback.

  9. Pam Keener
    Mar 20, 2013 @ 15:32:04

    I, too, love Amazon Prime. I love the fact that I don’t have to add merchandise so that my bill totals $25.00. I have purchased mostly books and toys at Christmas. I like to buy my batteries and such at department or warehouse type stores
    Love & Hugs,

  10. Meredith
    Mar 20, 2013 @ 18:51:55

    More people are shopping at e bookstores over the big chains according to Bowker’s research.

    Like Sylvie, I suspect that at least some of this shift is due to the difficulty in finding brick-and-mortar bookstores that carry books I want. I’ve got an independent bookseller in walking distance (which probably puts me in the minority in the contemporary U.S.), but it doesn’t stock much genre fiction.

    Meanwhile, I’ve also owned a Kindle for the last few years. I do read a lot of e-books, but I still prefer to own a hard copy. However, when my only option to acquire said hard copy is to purchase it from an online store, I’m more inclined to just buy the electronic copy, because I don’t have to wait around two days (or more) to acquire it. If there were a bookstore within a reasonable distance that stocked most of what I want, my e-purchases would decline tremendously.

    All this to say — the study’s very interesting, but I think it might reflect more than consumers’ innate preference for electronic material.

  11. txvoodoo
    Mar 20, 2013 @ 19:43:59

    I love Prime. I’m mostly housebound due to longterm illness, so it’s a godsend. (FSM-send?)

    Add in, there are things I can get there that aren’t available locally – certain foods/ingredients, for example. I do comparison shop, both on and offline. Some things I get at remarkable savings through Amazon, and Prime is the icing on the cake.

    Add in Subscribe & Save, and it’s fabulous.

  12. Susan
    Mar 20, 2013 @ 23:23:21

    Ha! Love both Amazon Prime and Subscribe & Save. I’m one of the people who buys batteries and coffee from Amazon. And just about everything else from toaster tongs to nail polish. It’s not just the free shipping (but, yay for that), it’s also the 2-day delivery for the patience-impaired. And I love the free streaming–I don’t have a TV so I love the access to (free) TV shows and movies.

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