Via Kathy Sandler’s Technology • Innovation • Publishing comes a link to The Guardian‘s report on TikTok’s plans to sell books direct to customers. Coming as this does in the same week as Amazon’s announcement of layoffs in its book division, this story must encourage speculations into Amazon’s possible abandonment of the book business. Publishers Weekly weighs the evidence.

Amazon clearly still maintains a hugely dominant position in the book retail world. They are currently ordering vigorously for this Christmas season, and will no doubt be selling a pile of books for months (years?) to come. But one thing of which we can be confident is that their business is not directed by sentiment. If they see an opportunity to enhance their prospects by abandoning books, books will be abandoned. And bear in mind they have three strands to their bookselling business: the retail operation, the Kindle and ebooks, and Audible.com for audiobooks. They are also a publisher.

Rather straw-in-windish perhaps is Princeton University’s announcing their new ability to sell audio-and ebooks direct-to-consumer via Glassboxx. We may not be watching a huge amount of change in publishers’ readiness to sell direct, but trickles under the dam, around the dam, and through the dam can ultimately lead to the collapse of the dam and a transformational flood. Movement is surely in the direction of more publishers selling more stuff direct to customers, which might suggest an anticipatory repositioning to cope with a post-Amazon world. If you pooh-pooh that, consider also Bookshop.com, which is quite successfully providing an e-commerce solution for independent bookstores.

Not immediately relevant but nevertheless an issue to consider in developing your sympathies, Amazon has (like lots of other businesses) received copious subsidization from state and local governments for creating jobs around the country. Good Jobs First details the situation. (Thanks to Nate Hoffelder for the link.) Most of these jobs will no doubt continue to exist of course if Amazon does ever decide that it’s easier and more profitable to sell things other than books.

At The New Publishing Standard Mark Williams warns that we should be wary of Amazon’s doing to books what they just did to music — putting it all onto Amazon Prime. With their ownership of Audible.com Amazon has the ability to direct one stream at least of the book business into an unlimited subscription model. Now of course as long as you as a publisher or author are adequately rewarded for such usage, an unlimited subscription model can be a good thing.