Ralph Nader, Commercial Alert, and 27 authors and scholars in a letter to Borders: Don't do it! "According to the May 20, 2002 Wall Street Journal, you [Borders] have devised 250 categories for books, each to be captained by a publishing firm. These firms will pay you a large annual fee -- in excess of $110,000 according to the Journal -- which will be hard for most small and medium-sized publishers to muster. In return, the "captains" will be able to decide which books you carry, how many are bought, and where they are placed. Although you say you will keep final authority over book-buying, Borders will be an agent of the publishers rather than of its customers."

When you cut through the way Borders is framing this deal, it sounds to me like the large publishers would be paying Borders to remove the competition from their shelves. That Borders is even considering a plan like this shows how much the large publishers control demand as well as supply. Scary stuff when you think of books as a repository for diverse ideas.