From Barry Eisler via The Guardian:
As an author of ten novels – legacy-published, self-published, and Amazon-published – I’m bewildered by the anti-Amazon animus among various establishment writers. James Patterson pays for full-page ads in the New York Times and Publishers Weekly, demanding that the US government intervene and do something (it’s never clear what) about Amazon. Richard Russo tries to frighten authors over Amazon’s”scorched-earth capitalism”. Scott Turow conjures images of the”nightmarish” future that Amazon, “the Darth Vader of the literary world”, has in store for us all. And “Authors Guild” president Roxana Robinson says Amazon is like “Tony Soprano” and “thuggish”.
These are strange things to say about a company that sells more books than anyone. That singlehandedly created a market for digital books,now the greatest source of the legacy publishing industry’s profitability(though of course legacy publishers are sharing little of that newfound wealth with their authors). That built the world’s first viable mass-market self-publishing platform, a platform that has enabled thousands of new authors to make a living from their writing for the first time in their lives. And that pays self-published authors something like five times as much in digital royalties as legacy publishers do.
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I imagine, for example, that James Patterson really does care passionately about books. But then he conflates an important function – publishing books – with the entity currently providing that function (the legacy industry run by New York’s “Big Five” publishing houses). Whatever challenges he then sees facing the legacy industry (no bookstores! no libraries!) then become challenges to literature itself (no books!). That’s a logical falsehood, of course – akin to believing a challenge to the horse-and-buggy industry is a challenge to transportation itself – but it’s a scary thought and therefore produces an extreme defensive response (government, do something!).
But none of this really makes sense. Literature was being written long before the Big Five began running the industry like a cartel (there’s a reason they’re referred to collectively – it’s how they function). And it will go on being written long after the Big Five either have evolved or been displaced by something better. Why? Because literature isn’t “produced by publishers”, as Patterson claims. Rather, it is written by authors.
. . . .
[I]f Amazon is indeed doing so much to destroy literature and all the rest, if the situation really is so dire that the US government has to pass laws to fix it, why haven’t Patterson, Robinson, Russo, Turow and other anti-Amazon authors demanded that their publishers pull their books from Amazon? How can someone condemn a company’s evil, monopolistic, culture- and livelihood-destroying ways … while continuing to make millions of dollars working with that company?
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No other bookstore on earth offers Amazon’s selection. So isn’t every other bookstore by definition refusing to stock more books than Amazon does? Why is this OK?
Link to the rest at The Guardian and thanks to Abel for the tip.