Industry platforms can alter relations among exchange partners in such a way that the industry structure is changed. The focus of much industry platform research has been on how platform creation and leadership offers advantages to the most central firms, but platforms can also be advantageous for small specialist firms that compete with the most central firms. We examine book publishing as an example of an industry in which the central players – large publishing firms – are losing power to self-publishing authors because the distributor Amazon has a powerful platform for customers to communicate independently, and the non-publishing platform Twitter also serves as a medium for readers to discuss and review books. Our empirical analysis is based on downloaded sales statistics for Amazon Ebooks, matched with Amazon reviews of the same books and tweets that refer to the book or the author. We analyze how Ebook sales are a function of publisher, Amazon reviews, and tweets, and we are able to assess the importance of each factor in the sale of book titles. The main finding is that Amazon reviews are powerful drivers of book sales, and have greater effect on the sales of books that are not backed by publishers. Twitter also affects book sales, but less strongly than Amazon reviews.
We are grateful to Data Guy for sharing the scraped data from Amazon. The chapter was much improved by helpful comments from Matthew Bidwell, Glenn Carroll, Ben Hallen, Suresh Kotha, Dan Levinthal, Henning Piezunka, Michael Tushman, participants of the West Coast Research Symposium, participants of the Advances in Strategic Management Research Workshop, and the volume editors.
Greve, H.R. and Song, S.Y. (2017), "Amazon Warrior: How a Platform Can Restructure Industry Power and Ecology", Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Platforms (Advances in Strategic Management, Vol. 37), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 299-335. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0742-332220170000037010
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