Steve Coll examines Brad Stone’s The Everything Store, and Amazon’s impact on publishing:
Toward the end of his account, Stone asks the essential question: “Will antitrust authorities eventually come to scrutinize Amazon and its market power?” His answer: “Yes, I believe that is likely.” It is “clear that Amazon has helped damage or destroy competitors small and large,” in Stone’s judgment.
In view of Amazon’s recent treatment of The Everything Store, Stone may now end up as a courtroom witness. Yet there are reasons to be wary about who will prevail in such a contest, if it ever takes place. As Stone notes, “Amazon is a masterly navigator of the law.” And crucially, as in so many other fields of economic policy, antitrust law has been reshaped in recent decades by the spread of free-market fundamentalism. Judges and legislators have reinterpreted antitrust law to emphasize above all the promotion of low prices for consumers, which Amazon delivers, rather than the interests of producers—whether these are authors, book publishers, or mom-and-pop grocery stores—that are threatened by giants.