Author Charlie Stross points out in a blog post that Amazaon is a monopsony at http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2012/04/understanding-amazons-strategy.html, which is a pretty strong enditement if you believe in free markets, given that it amounts to de facto market abuse.

Recently Paul Krugman has weighed in:

“Amazon.com, the giant online retailer, has too much power, and it uses that power in ways that hurt America.

[ … ]

Does Amazon really have robber-baron-type market power? When it comes to books, definitely. Amazon overwhelmingly dominates online book sales, with a market share comparable to Standard Oil’s share of the refined oil market when it was broken up in 1911. Even if you look at total book sales, Amazon is by far the largest player.”

Alternatives

The Guardian recently asked its readers what they would suggest as an alternative to Amazon here http://www.theguardian.com/money/blog/2013/may/16/amazon-alternatives-where-shop-online.

In the UK good alternatives, with a bricks and mortar presence, are:

  • FOPP, for music and video

http://www.fopp.com/

  • Foyles, for books

http://www.foyles.co.uk/

  • Currys, for applicances etc

http://www.currys.co.uk/

You might expect that the outlets would have higher prices but on recent purchases I have checked and the prices seem comparable to me, at least based on a limited sample size.

Kindles

Does this mean you shouldn’t use a Kindle? My thought here is that buying and using a Kindle is fine, given that – at a guess – Amazon does not make much gross margin from its Kindle sales. The Kindle owner who does not want to assist Amazon might do one of two things:

  1. Only download free ebooks for use on the Kindle
    Amazon itself offers some books for free download, plus there is always Project Guttenberg, and a wealth of interesting articles and essays on the internet.

  2. Download (from e.g. usenet) ebooks for use on the Kindle, and then buy in hard copy if they are good, delete them if not.

If you have a Kindle paperwhite and want to mess about with it (e.g. to change the screensavers) jailbreaking instructions can be found at http://www.howtogeek.com/168844/how-to-jail-break-your-kindle-paperwhite-for-screensavers-apps-and-more/