Cowen is approaching this from an economic theory perspective and trying to reconcile empirical evidence with economic theory. Does it matter to the consumer that a major, but dominant, retailer is boycotting a particular publisher, particularly when the switching costs are close to zero?
The answer is unclear but this conclusion was attention getting.
It is fine to argue that Amazon is being unfair to some authors and to object on ethical grounds. The economist also should add that readers don’t seem to mind very much. Most of the objections I am seeing are coming from authors and publishers, who of course in this sector are much less diversified in their interests than are readers.Most of the forums to which I belong related to children's books are dominated by critics, authors, publishers and social justice advocates. It has long struck me how divergent are their interests to the interests of parents seeking good books for their children.
But Cowen's observation is an interesting additional insight. Publishers and authors have interests that are not only different from parents but also, in certain respects, interests which are much less diverse.