It’s great to hear more authors voicing concern about Amazon’s ruthlessness, with Scott Turow and the Author’s Guild getting some press recently and really talking about the issues. Sherman Alexie, who’s been fighting this fight for years and is one of the few authors we know whose site prominently displays a “Shop Indie Bookstores” logo with a link to Indiebound (and not buried under the other guys, either!), points his readers to Scott Turow’s recent Salon interview about why we should fear Amazon.
Alexie says he continues to be “mystified” by authors who defend Amazon, calling themselves rebels. “When I attack Amazon, I am not attacking Internet literary culture, which I am firmly and happily a part of,” he writes. “No, I am attacking a huge corporation that has escaped most liberal and literary rebel moral and economic scrutiny. I don’t think many or most people realize that Amazon wants to put bookstores out of business. All bookstores. That’s the only explanation for their business practices. And for you e-fundamentalists who are addicted to that $9.99 e-book price, you will be sobered up when Amazon gets their monopoly and begins to raise praises. To put it in recent terms, Amazon is in the 1% and independent bookstores are in the 99%. So who are you going to fight for?”
Will someone please get him a billboard?
9 responses to “'Amazon is the 19'”
Oh…knowing what I know about Amazon, it’s even worse than what’s spelled out here. Pure evil.
Sherman Alexie is an awesomely talented author and a true champion of Independent Booksellers. I am grateful for his passion and his willingness to put himself out there in defense of Independent Booksellers.
To say nothing of the free app people downloaded so amazon knows WHAT to buy to put other people out of business. Every gift line …do not stop at book stores. They want to put everyone out of business.
It’s fine for millionaire authors to defend their corporate masters, but independent authors rely on Amazon because so few bookstores will carry our work. Sorry, Amazon, is not the primary villain when it comes to stifling competition.
I don’t see what the problem is. If a company offers a better service, then people will flock to it and use it. Don’t call Amazon evil because they are capable of offering a service that is much more efficient and effective than the outdated bookstores. If people through history were constantly fighting to preserve the past. We wouldn’t have any of the technologies that we enjoy today. Instead of fighting the future, embrace it. Bookstores aren’t doing enough to keep up with times so Amazon takes the cake. Welcome to capitalism.
I have used Amazon to acquire previously unavailable, out-of-print, obscure books, books which were unattainable by both small bookstores and, shockingly, the supermarkets of Barnes and Noble and Borders, books which are sitting on the shelves of private, independent sellers, collecting dust, brand new, mint-condition books which I WANT TO READ. The ability to easily and affordably acquire a coveted out-of-print first edition, a publication which is essentially out of circulation, is an absolute gift. For example, I have just just purchased a brand new, out-of-print, hardcover book, through an independent bookseller, through Amazon, for an elderly friend, someone who does not own a computer, someone who loves to read, someone who is devoted to both small and large bookstores, because no bookstore and no library was able to locate a copy of this particular book. I also am grateful to the small, independent bookstores, those beautiful wonderlands where I discover new books, new authors, and am engaged by knowledgeable, literary enthusiasts. Both are useful. Both have their place. To both, I am grateful. The ultimate goal is to place a great chunk of writing in my hands.
I always bought my books from amazon.com Marketplace, assuming that most of the sellers there are independent, small booksellers. Is this assumption incorrect? Thank you to someone with the correct information to confirm this or not !
BTW – Ben B: There is a difference between capitalism and corporatism!!!
Ben, do you enjoy browsing in bookstores? Do you ever go to author events to hear favorite authors speak about their works? Those extra services and the joy of talking with people who recommend really great books always took me to Independent bookstores. In any case your wish may certainly be granted. Soon those “Outdated” Independent Bookstores may be a thing of the past and all of your book buying can continue on Amazon.com (by the way I am not saying they are evil). The problem, though, for those who want to keep bookstores as vibrant parts of their communities, is that Amazon competes unfairly. Amazon often sells books at prices near or below the cost an Independent Bookstore can purchase books. Instead of stocking books for customers to browse and select, Amazon saves the rent money and sends their customers out to look at product in local bookstores then buy it cheaper on Amazon. So someone else pays the staffing, rent, lights, stocking, etc. while Amazon reaps the benefits. We few remaining Independent bookstores would like fair pricing, but the Justice Department is going after publishers to prevent them from pricing their products thus allowing and encouraging Amazon.com to sell below retail prices. This produces an environment that makes it impossible for Independent Bookstores to survive. There should be room for both Amazon and Independent Bookstores, but it will not turn out that way with such unfair, predatory competition.
I am guessing you may be too young to remember the gas wars. Back in the day big oil companies used a similar practice to kill the small independent gas stations that were a mainstay in most communities. Those small stations had roots in the community, often had a mechanic on duty if you had car trouble, and the proprietor might even run a fan belt out to you if you broke down along the road. The stations for the big oil companies had none of that extra service, but what they offered was a cheap price. Until the Independents were gone. Then guess what? Prices increased, and increased, and increased more, and they are still increasing. The minute the Independents were gone the cheap prices were over, hasta la vista baby. The same thing happened to most Mom & Pop grocery stores that served small communities, now we have 7-11. And higher prices too. I am not at all sure I would call this progress. Long term Amazon will probably stand on the top of the heap overlooking a country no longer enriched by Independent bookstores, and then we will see what prices they offer. For those of us who like to take a stroll down the aisle in a bookstore, ask the proprietor what he has been reading lately, and maybe return to hear a new author in the evening, the loss of Independent Bookstores will diminish the community.
I’ve always been an avid supporter of Indy bookstores but it’s hard maintaining that stance. I’m published through a small press. Try getting Indy bookstores to carry books from a small press. Walking on water is easier. I realize it’s not all the Indies fault; no returns, not a lot of profit but, while I may write out of love of writing, I would like to see some sales as well and so will go with the outlets that will sell my book. As long as the Indies try to play this game by Amazon’s rules, they are going to lose. They need to come up with new ideas, ways to sell eBooks direct, reach some form of agreement with the small presses to carry their books. My publisher puts out some damn fine reading and just about the only sales avenue we have for the Tree Books is Amazon. Things need to change.