And that is ultimately the point I took from Biggs' post. Again, it's not new, but when so many outside observers feel the need to continually repeat it, maybe it's because the message isn't getting through to those who need to hear it?
Being sold for only slightly more than the revenue you brought in the prior year isn't exactly a signal that anyone believes the company has a lot of growth potential, especially not one whose roster theoretically covers the full gamut of shiny author services so many seem to believe are publishing's revenue streams of the future. Plus, ASI was apparently on the block for a while with no buyer, so I find Penguin's CEO John Makinson's claim odd, as reported by Publisher's Lunch, that he expects there will be a "new and growing category of professional authors who are going to gravitate towards the ASI solution rather than the free model." So then, what's the real angle here?
While it's interesting to see the affiliate script flipped on Amazon, with their redirecting traffic to purchase the ebooks (surely with a nice cut of the revenue), the user experience leaves a lot to be desired, especially if you're used to purchasing your ebooks via the Kindle itself and/or the apps. The whole setup seems to be targeting hardcore fans—most of whom have probably already downloaded the ebooks for free via a torrent site—while asking the more casual reader to jump through hoops Amazon and B&N, in particular, have worked hard to eliminate.
What comes with authors' shift to the business side is the reality that the water gets a lot deeper, particularly when it comes to attending conferences and registration fees. If you want to be a true self-publisher, there's a lot more to it than uploading your file to Amazon, and that includes bearing larger expenses like conference registration fees.
If you're an author who has already been shook and sold your soul and firstborn to Jeff Bezos, I can see this seeming like a good short-term deal, but the potential repercussions are huge.