Last June, Amazon was among ten other companies that petitioned the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) for the right to own the “.book” domain, including Google. This week, the Association of American Publishers (AAP) challenged the bid by Amazon, saying “authors, publishers, sellers, libraries, literary agents, educators, editors, collectors, illustrators, photographers, printers, binders, archives,” and others would be disadvantaged if Amazon wins the right to use the domain. Publishers Weekly reports, AAP further argued, it would contradict the “traditional primary meaning” of the word “book”.
The traditional meaning of books has already changed — largely in part to Amazon and Google — but the question of who has the right to own the domain in the first place, is incredibly intriguing. Do the authors who write them? Do the publishers who distribute them? Do the booksellers who sell them? Do the libraries that house them? Or do the readers who eventually own them? What about the devices that are rapidly taking the place of “books”? I think the answer is that we all do — neither could arguably exist without the other.
Perhaps the real issue is that ICANN is allowing an entity the chance to apply for the exclusive right to use the domain in the first place. Why not leave it open to everyone — like .com, .org, .biz, .us, etc?