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The New York Times reports that Amazon, which has been engaged in a pricing battle with publishing company Hachette for months, now is engaged in a similar tussle with Disney, blocking pre-orders of physical copies of both Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Muppets Most Wanted, which are scheduled to come out in the next few months.

Customers are being told that they can sign up to be notified when the movies become available, or can pre-order digital copies of the films.

The Times writes that "preorders are a way for an entertainment company to gauge demand. Consumers have increasingly been trained to want something the moment it becomes available, so if they do not have the ability to order ahead, the companies worry, the customer will not buy a product when it hits the market.

"Eliminating the preorder button is thus a potent weapon for Amazon. It declined to take orders for Warner Home Video for several weeks at the beginning of the summer. And it has been engaged in a pitched battle with Hachette for months, causing some of the publisher’s authors to see their sales on the site drop by half."
KC's View:
While neither Amazon nor Disney have commented on the dispute, it seems fair to presume that the argument is over money - Amazon wants lower costs so it can charge less, and Disney wants to preserve existing margins. And so Amazon is playing hardball, probably because it is under pressure to show stronger profits rather than continuing losses … though, to be fair, the losses exist because Amazon keeps investing in new products and services that it believes it needs to keep a sustainable lead in the e-commerce space. And, Amazon points out, it isn't doing anything that other big retailers don't do. All of which I am willing to concede.

But … I wonder if Amazon is making a miscalculation by maintaining that its major advantage is price. I think having low prices is important, of course, but I also think there is an element of convenience and breadth of product selection that have been more important to Amazon's growth than always having the lowest price. I just wonder if Amazon is misguided about why it has so quickly gained such a dominant role in the retail landscape.

Now, I recognize that Jeff Bezos is a genius gazillionaire, and I'm just the Content Guy. He's probably got a ton of algorithms that prove that low price is the be-all and end-all.

But my gut tells me something different.