Monopoly Isn’t Just a Game Anymore

When you own the railroad you can control what goes on it. If you get greedy, there’s nobody to stop you. They haven’t a choice.

Amazon is doing a bit of its own railroading these days, being a bully to book publisher Hachette because of a contract dispute. Amazon is taking down pre-order buttons for Hachette titles on its site, raised prices on the publisher’s offerings, and even changed page design to feature other titles that compete with Hachette.  It’s not nice, but it’s certainly possible when you own the railroad.

The argument for and against Amazon has gone back and forth. Amazon is killing the independent bookstore. Amazon is making reading more popular and more affordable. I have tended to go for the positive view of Amazon, because I like to read, and I see how easy the company has made it to get more books. Now we’re into a new stage of the game, and it’s not a family-friendly round of Monopoly. This is the kind of game aimed at putting competitors out of business, pushing smaller companies around, …

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