Amazon Strikes Again at Barnes & Noble

May 8th, 2012

“How long will you simple ones love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge?
– Proverbs 1:22

This afternoon Amazon once again reminded us that Barnes & Noble doesn’t have a prayer in hell of blocking its way.


But, I hear you saying, today’s announcement from Amazon has nothing to do with ebooks or with publishing.

The press release leads off:

Amazon Web Services (AWS) today announced new managed services for Windows developers with the worldwide launch of Amazon Relational Database Services (Amazon RDS) for Microsoft SQL Server and ASP.NET support for AWS Elastic Beanstalk. Businesses can now take advantage of the managed database and application services to deploy, manage and scale SQL Server databases and ASP.NET applications using familiar Microsoft tools.

My first thought was: of course, Amazon isn’t going to let Barnes & Noble act like it curries any real favor with Microsoft. My second thought: I bet Microsoft is not sponsoring this press release. Nope, no endorsement from Microsoft, but a very strong plug from Adobe Systems.

Oh, and hey, wasn’t that Barnes & Noble deal with Microsoft in part focused on the supposed strengths in Barnes & Noble’s stodgy and stolid College division, which was mysteriously offloaded as part of an otherwise all-digital deal?

So who else strongly endorsed Amazon this afternoon: Apollo Group “one of the world’s largest private education providers (which) has been in the education business for more than 35 years.” Quoth Apollo: “We are already using Amazon RDS for MySQL and are excited… enable us to focus on what makes our educational offerings exceptional.” As of close of trading today, Apollo’s market cap (stock market value) is four times Barnes & Noble’s. Amazon’s stock dropped today in step with the rest of the markets. So it’s trading at merely 100 times the value of Barnes & Noble.

Oh how I wish that Barnes & Noble could pull off its end game. And how I do despair. Amazon is playing for so much higher stakes than that little bookseller from New York.

Amazon’s message is clear. It can forge a much bigger deal for Microsoft products without Microsoft’s cooperation than Barnes & Noble can conjur up even with the full endorsement of Andy “Our Complementary Assets” Lees, Microsoft’s president.

And when it makes such a deal, Amazon will include a company that represents the future of education, not the company that sells crested sweatshirts and used textbooks.