David Streitfeld

Google and Amazon Are at the Center of a Storm Brewing Over Big Tech

Google and Amazon have thrived as American regulators largely kept their distance. That may be changing. Politicians on the right and left are decrying the tech companies’ enormous power. President Donald Trump (R-NY) and other Republicans have taken swipes at Amazon over taxes and at Google over search results they say are biased.

Craig Newmark, Newspaper Villain, Is Working to Save Journalism

Craig Newmark, creator of Craigslist and often accused of destroying journalism, is now doing his best to revive it. Researchers eventually estimated that Craigslist had drained $5 billion from American newspapers over a seven-year period. In the Bay Area, the media was especially hard hit. Newmark is trying to stop the bleeding — although not there. He is among a gaggle of West Coast technology moguls who are riding to the rescue of the beleaguered East Coast media.

Amazon’s Antitrust Antagonist Has a Breakthrough Idea

Amazon has more revenue than Facebook, Google and Twitter put together, but it has largely escaped sustained examination. That is beginning to change, and one significant reason is Lina Khan. In early 2017, when she was an unknown law student, Khan published “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox” in the Yale Law Journal. Her argument went against a consensus in antitrust circles that dates back to the 1970s — the moment when regulation was redefined to focus on consumer welfare, which is to say price.

How Calls for Privacy May Upend Business for Facebook and Google

The contemporary internet was built on a bargain: Show us who you really are and the digital world will be free to search or share. People detailed their interests and obsessions on Facebook and Google, generating a river of data that could be collected and harnessed for advertising. The companies became very rich. Users seemed happy. Privacy was deemed obsolete, like bloodletting and milkmen. Now, the consumer surveillance model underlying Facebook and Google’s free services is under siege from users, regulators and legislators on both sides of the Atlantic.

Amazon Tries to Woo Authors in Hachette Dispute

Amazon, awash in negative publicity in its confrontation with Hachette over e-book terms, is seeking to break the standoff by appealing directly to the publisher’s authors.

David Naggar, an Amazon executive who works with publishers and independent authors, sent a letter to a small group of Hachette writers proposing “a big windfall for authors” by taking them “out of the middle” of the dispute. The letter extends and develops a proposal Amazon made earlier in the dispute, which was dismissed by Hachette. It now offers Hachette authors “100 percent of the sales price of every Hachette e-book we sell.”

Amazon also offered to suspend all its shipping delays and price adjustments, which it put in place in an effort to bend Hachette to its will. Roxana Robinson, president of the Authors Guild, dismissed the proposal.

Amazon Escalates Its Battle Against Hachette

Amazon, under fire in much of the literary community for energetically discouraging customers from buying books from the publisher Hachette, has abruptly escalated the battle.

The retailer began refusing orders for coming Hachette books, including JK Rowling’s new novel. The paperback edition of Brad Stone’s “The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon” -- a book Amazon disliked so much it denounced it -- is suddenly listed as “unavailable.” In some cases, even the pages promoting the books have disappeared. Anne Rivers Siddons’s new novel, “The Girls of August,” coming in July, no longer has a page for the physical book or even the Kindle edition. Only the audio edition is still being sold (for more than $60).

The confrontation with Hachette has turned into the biggest display of Amazon’s dominance since it briefly stripped another publisher, Macmillan, of its “buy” buttons in 2010. It seems likely to encourage debate about the enormous power the company wields. No company in American history has exerted the control over the American book market -- physical, digital and secondhand -- that Amazon does.

Amazon vs. Hachette: When Does Discouragement Become Misrepresentation?

Amazon has been trying to put the screws on Hachette, the smallest of the Big Five publishers, by discouraging people from buying its printed books. Amazon’s goal: force Hachette to give it better terms on e-books.

Two things make Amazon’s confrontational stance toward Hachette unusual. First, there is the overwhelming power Amazon has in the marketplace. Second is Amazon’s multifaceted approach. Most of the time, it has all sorts of ways to encourage you to buy a book: faster shipping, cheaper shipping, a discount, a cheap copy from a third party who was cleaning out his closet.

Now, like a river reversing its flow, it is using all sorts of ways to get people not to buy Hachette titles: more expensive, slower shipping, pitching something else instead. The worry for Hachette is that its authors will rise up in anger at the publisher, forcing it to surrender to Amazon’s terms. The worry for Amazon is that it will be perceived of as a thug.