Understanding Amazon’s Purchase of .book Domain

Now that thousands of unique TLDs are up for grabs, the race is on among major corporations to buy up the domain names that are predicted to be most desirable. Amazon’s recent acquisition of the top level domain name .book is currently a hot topic on the web. You may be asking yourself “what does that mean?” or “why I should care?” Here is a breakdown of what is going on and the potential implications Amazon’s purchase of .book could have on the future of digital marketing.

What are TLDs

A TLD or Top Level Domain name is like a zip code at the end of a postal address. You may recognize them as the abbreviation after the “dot” in a website’s name, like “.com” or “.net”. A top level domain name is the highest ranking type of domain name in a system that is used to assign names to specific locations on the internet. This system is in place to organize websites and information on the internet so that is can be found more easily.

What is ICANN?

The “Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers”, more commonly known as ICANN, is the nonprofit organization responsible for assigning these names to different entities who want to create web pages on the internet.

How are TLDs acquired?

Until recently, there were very few generic domain names that were being used by the majority of sites on the internet. In 2012, ICANN made the decision to expand the domain name system in order to more effectively organize websites online. As a result, companies can now apply for the right to use unique domain names and purchase them through auction if others are interested in the same TLD.

Why purchase a unique TLD?

By purchasing the rights to a unique TLD, a company can acquire complete control over its use. If another party would like to use that abbreviation at the end of their web address they would have to pay the owner of that domain name to use it. Now that unique domain names are available, companies are predicted to seek out TLDs that are more relevant to the content of their website. For example, if you own a real estate company you may decide you want to end your web address with “.home” but if that domain name has already been purchased you have to pay the owner to use it. This is opening up a new secondary market of buying and selling domain names that is now in the hands of private companies rather than ICANN.

Amazon’s purchase of .book

Amazon recently applied for the rights to over 70 unique TLDs, but it is the company’s purchase of .book that has come into the spotlight. In November of 2014 Amazon outbid several large companies, including Google, to acquire exclusive use of the .book domain name. There is now growing speculation over how Amazon plans to use the .book domain. Some individuals are concerned that they may keep it exclusively for their own business endeavors, while others feel they are more likely to sell the rights to its use to other businesses such as publishers, authors, and book realtors.

Controversy behind .book purchase

There are numerous companies, particularly in the publishing industry that are upset about Amazon’s acquisition of the .book TLD. They feel that giving Amazon exclusive rights to the .book domain name is contradictory to ICANN’s plan to expand the domain name system. Many believe that it would be unfair to the book industry and the general public if Amazon chooses to close off the domain name and keep it for their own private use. If this happens many publishers, authors, editors, book stores and other entities would lose out on the opportunity to use this highly sought after domain name for their respective web pages.

The future of unique TLDs

ICANN’s plan to expand the domain name system is a game changer in digital marketing. In the past, the vast majority of sites online have ended with “.com” but now the sky is the limit. Companies can customize their web addresses to more effectively describe their business. This will allow internet users to more easily navigate millions of sites to find exactly what they are looking for and in turn companies will be more visible online to potential customers.

Amazon’s purchase of .book is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the direction domain names are headed. Although some individuals are concerned about the potential implications the sale of .book may have on the publishing industry, others recognize it as an innovation in digital marketing and a glimpse into the future of TLDs.

All views expressed are my own

Marek Lewandowski