Publishers throw the .book at ICANN

“The potential for abuse is limitless” were the words of the Author’s Guild President, Scott Turow, as he detailed his concerns over Amazon’s attempt to secure the generic top level domains .read, .author and .book.

This is the most recent backlash we’ve seen over plans to throw open the generic top level domain market which will allow companies with deep pockets to purchase the domain extensions specific to their market (such as .baby for Johnson and Johnson). Naturally those companies that are unwilling or unable to pay the hundreds of thousands of dollars required to bid for their own fear that those who do will be placed it in an untouchable position of online dominance for years to come.

“Dear Sirs:

I’m writing as president of the Authors Guild, the largest society of book authors in the U.S., representing more than 8,000 published writers.

We strongly object to ICANN’s plans to sell the exclusive top-level domain rights for generic book-industry terms, such as .book, .author, and .read. Placing such generic domains in private hands is plainly anticompetitive, allowing already dominant, well-capitalized companies to expand and entrench their market power. The potential for abuse seems limitless.

ICANN, of all entities, should be mindful of the critical need to maintain an open, freely competitive Internet. Please rethink this project.

Sincerely,

Scott Turow

President
Authors Guild”

Barnes and Noble wrote a similar but lengthier letter that concluded:

“Amazon’s clear goal is to dominate the bookselling and publishing markets. Their drive to further consolidate these markets will be greatly aided by their control of the .book, .read and .author TLDs. By having Amazon control these TLDs, creativity will be limited and content diversity threatened. The solution is to deny Amazon’s closed TLD applications or in the alternative to require that Amazon operate such TLDs as open registries, allowing free access to competitors.”

Personally I feel it’s a lot of fuss about nothing and that these GTLDs will only reinforce the importance of the good old .com and his country specific buddies, like the .co.uk. That said, it’s evident that big organisations don’t share that cynism as they’re either spending large amounts of cash bidding or large amounts of time complaining about those bidding. Clearly big brands think the stakes are high and that alone may be reason for the broader market to treat this seriously.

Dan