"Amazon took unilateral action to punish authors" ?
The contract between Amazon and Hachette expired.
They started negotiating a new contract. They can't agree to terms hence Amazon limiting Hachette's stok because, well, they no longer have a contract to sell Hachette's books on Amazon.
There was nothing "unilateral" about it. Amazon doesn't agree to Hachette's term. Hachette doesn't agree to Amazon's terms.
Amazon didn't "punish" authors. It didn't even "punish" Hachette. 2 giant companies failed to agree on distribution terms.
It's regrettable that authors are collateral damage here but how do you put the blame fully on Amazon and none of it on Hachette?
Especially given that Amazon is the party that proposed a way to compensate the authors during negotiations. 3 proposals, actually, all of which Hachette rejected. Because Hachette cares about their authors so much.
how is this different from Walmart deciding at what price it sells its suppliers' product. Almost all the retailers decide the final selling price of suppliers' products, that is the reason they are able to undercut mom&pop retail stores. Only exception on supplier side is Apple and to some extent Bose who have the brand leverage to dictate their prices to retailers.
My guess is that they want to standardise pricing much better than they are able to rely on publishers doing (understandably on both parts). Even Apple's walled garden lets you set the price doesn't it? I guess maybe consumers see less variance in ebooks and Amazon want to simplify things.
Amazon seem to better support my best interests as a consumer - and I plan to buy a Kindle soon fwiw - but I think trying to compare Amazon to anything traditional is going to fail because their model is so different - and at the end is basically a walled garden they need to control as much as possible.