And most packaged goods companies would kill to be the only product on the shelf, to own the category in a given store.
Yet, not only do authors get along, they spend time and energy blurbing each other's books. Authors don't try to eliminate others from the shelf, in fact, they seek out the most crowded shelves they can find to place their books. They eagerly pay to read what everyone else is writing...
Can you imagine Tim Cook at Apple giving a generous, positive blurb to an Android phone?
And yet authors do it all the time.
It's one of the things I've always liked best about being a professional writer. The universal recognition that there's plenty of room for more authors, and that more reading is better than less reading, even if what's getting read isn't ours.
It's not a zero-sum game. It's an infinite game, one where we each seek to help ideas spread and lives change.
It turns out that in most industries in the connection economy, that's precisely what works. People happily tweet each other's handles to their followers and give references to others that are looking for jobs. When a business that's comfortable not having 100% market share happily recommends a competitor, they're sending a signal about trust and confidence and most of all, about feeding the community first.
The competition isn't the person next to you on the web, or the store. The competition is none-of-the-above.