January 31, 2010
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Amazon Macmillan

Over the weekend, Amazon went to war with Macmillan (and with them the entire Holtzbrinck Group), and then, suddenly, capitulated. The surrender statement, however, is odd and ill-written. In last year’s Orwell Affair, in which the apparent stakes were much smaller, Amazon’s resolution was brilliantly written.

One tell: the claim that Macmillan’s copyrights are monopolistic does nothing for Amazon – of course copyrights are monopolies, that’s why Queen Elizabeth invented them – but helps Macmillan by focusing attention on Amazon’s potential monopoly in distribution. It’s not in Amazon’s interest to talk this way, but it might be exactly what a stressed division manager would be feeling.

The Macmillan statement is signed by "The Kindle Group"; the Orwell Affair apology was signed by Jeff Bezos.

My guess: someone was tasked with writing a draft, and instead published the thing.

This is going to make an amazing book. As Tim Bray observed: the marketplace of the 21st century was being negotiated before our very eyes.