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Without the Rats

Today's publishing news is that the US is suing Apple and the big publishers for price fixing in relation to ebooks.

On the surface, it appears to be a fairly simple situation, especially given that three of the publishers settled early. Macmillan's statement that it could allow Amazon to take a monopoly position probably does have a scent of truth to it, but that's a different battle, really. Justifying one action--price fixing--because of another bad market place situation doesn't really help your defense, I would think, since the question of an online monopoly is a different battle to be fought. Also, without knowing off the top of my head just how much Amazon dominates the online market, or in this case, the ebook market, I cannot judge if the claim is a fair one.

Lately, N. and I have been talking about the state of Australian consumerism. She's been faintly horrified by the dominance of retail organisations in Australia, pointing out to me that, in the local stores, there's a hugely limited choice of brands you can buy. Not items, that's fine, but there's no real competition on, say, honey mustard. Why aren't there two? Or three? I have no idea. There's not, though, and the supermarkets--to continue with my example--are pretty much dominated by two companies. There's not a whole lot of choice where you go, what you buy once you're there, or how much you pay. There are lots of examples of it, really. When I worked as a projectionist, I watched Village and Hoyts divide up two states, leaving Hoyts in NSW and Village in Victoria. Each company owns half their stocks in each other, and have a pretty sold stake in Greater Union as well, which results in dominance of the market. While I was working there, it was not uncommon to hear stories of how they straggled out new competition, stopped new cinema chains from opening, and so forth. There's lots of other examples, as well, when you start looking around: Australia is the land of the monopoly, of the conservative business model that allows CEOs to run around with funny hats and laugh and throw money into the air and dance naked beneath it.

Mostly, though, I never gave much thought about all this. It's Australia. I pretty much took it as it is, and didn't stress it overly because it has kind of always been that way. But since N. has moved in, it has been one of those things I've noticed, one of the things that has struck me as something a bit uncool, and something I oughtn't support so blissfully and ignorantly. What can I say? Girl moves in, boy begins to notice things. I'm sure you're all shocked.

In related news, the chilli tree we're growing has chillis on it. I pulled one off last night and used it in dinner.


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Apr. 12th, 2012 01:55 am (UTC)
personally I believe we have way too much consumer choice already when it comes to mustard. I don't want more flavours, I want better ingredients!
Apr. 12th, 2012 02:02 am (UTC)
totally on the last part.

there is actually a lot of choice in mustard, but there's not a lot of choice in company mustard...
Apr. 12th, 2012 02:03 am (UTC)
23 flavours and I usually pick Dijon
Apr. 12th, 2012 02:03 am (UTC)
I have four chilli trees :P and yes have switched to getting better ingredients.
Apr. 12th, 2012 02:20 am (UTC)
yeah, we're trying to organise a vegetable patch in the back for a larger selection. however, this week we're trying one of the organic grown produce places, to see how that shakes.
Apr. 12th, 2012 04:37 am (UTC)
I read another article on the Amazon vs Apple case, which claimed that 2 years ago (at about the time this happened), Amazon had 90% of the ebook market and since then, it has dropped to 60%.

The major supermarkets in Australia deliberately reduced the number of labels they were stocking a couple of years ago as well. Market research has found that once you get beyond 2 or 3 choices on a shelf, total sales actually drop (e.g. offer 10 brands of honey mustard and you'll sell less honey mustard than if you only offer one brand) as people become overwhelmed by the choices. Between that and the costs of pricing and stocking multiple lines, I can see why it is in the interests of Coles and Woollies not to give us more choices. The dominance of Coles and Woollies is perhaps more of a problem. (I mainly shop at Woollies myself, though).
Apr. 13th, 2012 12:06 am (UTC)
bah, market research. ruining my chances of better mustard!

anyhow, i do think that the coles and woolies dominance is a problem, personally. not that it feels like it'll change much these days.
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