Here's a post by a man who's much smarter than I am: Charles Stross. He writes speculative fiction which pushes both technical and economic boundaries, His latest blog post is on the Kindle coming to the UK and what it means for publishers and authors. He is less than flattering to Amazon. Check it out- your new word for the day is : monopsony!
I don't usually worry much about getting into the Amazon debate. However, a post by an author that I'm asking to do a signing with us (he may decline since we're still kinda small fry) discusses the problem of getting people to actually buy the book they want signed in the bookstore doing the signing. Read the third and fourth paragraphs under "The Tour" heading.
It never looks good when small bookstores complain about Amazon, Walmart, or any of the big boys. The fact is, we can't discount our books as steeply as they can. However, it's worth bearing in mind that these discounts come out of the pockets of authors and publishers, never mind booksellers. Walmart and Amazon can negotiate discounts of scale because of their buying power, and have publishers over a barrel. If they refuse to buy from a publisher because they don't like that publisher's terms, then no Amazon or Walmart for that publisher- can you imagine the lost sales? Little guys don't have that kind of negotiating power, and publishers have to make profits somewhere. Customers don't know what's going on with the discounts and vote with their pocketbooks, and why shouldn't they? I know my budget is tight right now.
We try to provide value for our customers. We discount books you order from us, book club books, bestsellers. We also provide a stellar staff who can give you great recommendations for gifts, a good Mexican place to try, or just chat with you about your last purchase and how much you loved it. Please remember us when you're shopping, and realize that we're doing our best to give you the most bang for your buck and the best deal we can.