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The War of the Words

7 November 2014

From Vanity Fair:

When Amazon first appeared, in the mid-90s, mailing books out of the Seattle garage of its founder, Jeff Bezos, it was greeted with enthusiasm. The company seemed like a useful counterweight to the big bookstore chains that had come to dominate the book-retailing landscape. In the late 1990s, the large chains, led by Borders and Barnes & Noble, controlled about a quarter of the adult-book market. Their stores were good. They may have lacked individuality, but they made up for it in inventory—a typical Barnes & Noble superstore carried 150,000 titles, making it as alluring, in its way, as the biggest and most famous independent bookstores in America, like Tattered Cover, in Denver, or City Lights, in San Francisco. Now a person on a desolate highway in upstate New York could access all those books, too.

The big chains were good for publishers because they sold so many books, but they were bad for publishers because they used their market power to dictate tough terms and also because they sometimes returned a lot of stock. People also worried about the power of the chains to determine whether a book did well or badly. Barnes & Noble’s lone literary-fiction buyer, Sessalee Hensley, could make (or break) a book with a large order (or a disappointingly small one). If you talked to a publisher in the early 2000s, chances are they would complain to you about the tyranny of Sessalee. No one used her last name; the most influential woman in the book trade did not need one.

The success of Amazon changed all that. It has been said that Amazon got into the book business accidentally—that it might as well have been selling widgets. This isn’t quite right. Books were ideal as an early e-commerce product precisely because when people wanted particular books they knew already what they were getting into. The vast variety of books also allowed an enterprising online retailer to leverage the fact that there was no physical store in a single fixed location to limit its inventory. If a big Barnes & Noble had 150,000 books in stock, Amazon had a million! And if Barnes & Noble had taken its books to lonely highways where previously there had been no bookstores, Amazon was taking books to places where there weren’t even highways. As long as you had a credit card, and the postal service could reach you, you suddenly had the world’s largest bookstore at your fingertips.

. . . .

When Amazon started meeting with publishers about the Kindle, its future e-book reader, in 2006, the device may well have seemed to them like just another goofy Amazon idea. E-readers had been tried, and had failed. Nonetheless, by 2007, publishers agreed to digitize a worthwhile selection of their books. But as one told the journalist Brad Stone for his book about Amazon,The Everything Store, none of the publishers spent much time thinking about how much e-books should cost. When, finally, at the press launch of the Kindle, Bezos announced that new releases and best-sellers would be priced at $9.99, the publishers had a fit. Then they checked their freshly inked contracts with Amazon and realized that they had forgotten something. They had no control over the price.

What was the problem with $9.99? The heart of the matter was that it was so much less than $28, the average price of a new hardcover book. Another problem with $9.99 was just how close it was to $7.99 or $6.99. Publishers believed that Amazon would eventually go even lower, putting intolerable price pressure on print books and the places that sold them. With print gone, what exactly would publishers be left with? They could still select and edit and market books, but their chief task, getting the books into stores across the land, would be eliminated.

. . . .

In the U.S., revenue from e-books is now about $3 billion annually. Amazon controls about two-thirds of this market. It also controls about two-thirds of all print books sold online. It is the biggest bookseller in the world. And no one complains about Sessalee Hensley anymore.

In the early years of the Kindle, the thing that made publishers most nervous was Amazon’s insistence on selling many e-books at cost or even at a loss. Initially, publishers set their e-book list prices at a few dollars off the print price, and then gave Amazon a 50 percent discount, meaning that Amazon was receiving new books at an average wholesale price of about $12—and was selling them for $9.99 and below. When publishers raised their wholesale prices in order to pressure Amazon to raise its resale price, Amazon didn’t budge. When publishers started “windowing” some new titles—that is, delaying their release as e-books for several months after the hardcover release—Amazon showed no inclination to change its practices, and publishers lost e-book sales. The publishers wanted to sell e-books, and they wanted to sell them when people were most likely to buy—when a book was new. But they also wanted to set the price.

. . . .

Amazon’s self-published authors’ books were particularly inexpensive, and also something else: they were a particular kind of book. In publishing terms they were known as “genre” books: thrillers, mysteries, horror stories, romances. There were genre writers on both sides of the dispute, but on the publishing side were huddled the biographers, urban historians, midlist novelists—that is, all the people who were able to eke out a living because publishers still paid advances, acting as a kind of local literary bank, in anticipation of future sales. Some pro-Amazon authors boasted of the money they’d earned from self-publishing, but the authors of books that sometimes took a decade to write knew that this was not for them—that in an Amazon future they would be even more dependent on the universities and foundations than they already were. When, in turn, pro-Amazon authors lashed out at traditional publishing, they often spoke with the passion of the dispossessed. The publishing houses made a lot of money on their own genre best-sellers, but the Amazon backers were not wrong to think that some of the institutions associated with American publishing—such as The New York Times, which has reported on the Hachette-Amazon standoff in great detail—did not take self-published genre writers all that seriously, and probably never would. (But get yourself on the Man Booker Prize short list and your call to the Times will go right through.) And perhaps the pro-Amazon writers also preferred the Amazon executives—Grandinetti, who talks about defending regular customers from the big “media conglomerates” (though he went to Princeton and worked for Morgan Stanley), and Bezos, who comes across as an excitable mad inventor (though he also went to Princeton)—to the buttoned-up representatives of the “legacy publishers,” such as the soft-spoken and impeccably articulate Michael Pietsch, who had gone to Harvard. In this way, the Amazon-Hachette dispute mirrors the wider culture wars that have been playing out in America since at least the 1960s. On the one side, super-wealthy elites employing populist rhetoric and mobilizing non-elites; on the other side, slightly less wealthy elites struggling to explain why their way of life is worth preserving.

. . . .

“If the Kindle didn’t have any books on it, guess how many Kindles would be selling,” [agent Andrew] Wylie said, putting up his fingers to indicate zero Kindles. “They want the books, and they want the publishers’ profits, too? They should get nothing. Zero.”

I pointed out to Wylie that his willingness to take the fight to Amazon partly on behalf of the publishers was a curious position for the famous scourge of publishers. He said, “It’s the first time since I got into the business that the interests of print publishers and authors have been closely aligned. And the reason is that, like ISIS, Amazon is so determined to wreak havoc on the culture that unlikely alliances have been formed.”

The next morning I got an e-mail from Wylie. In eight years of being a client at his agency, I had never received an e-mail from him, much less a mass e-mail prompting me to action. In it, an impassioned Wylie urged all his authors to sign the Authors United petition, the one organized by Douglas Preston. A few days later, The New York Times ran an article reporting that Philip Roth, the estate of Saul Bellow, and Milan Kundera, among other Wylie clients, had joined the Authors United campaign.

Link to the rest at Vanity Fair

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64 Comments to “The War of the Words”

  1. “And perhaps the pro-Amazon writers also preferred the Amazon executives—Grandinetti, who talks about defending regular customers from the big “media conglomerates” (though he went to Princeton and worked for Morgan Stanley), and Bezos, who comes across as an excitable mad inventor (though he also went to Princeton)—to the buttoned-up representatives of the “legacy publishers,” such as the soft-spoken and impeccably articulate Michael Pietsch, who had gone to Harvard. In this way, the Amazon-Hachette dispute mirrors the wider culture wars that have been playing out in America since at least the 1960s.”

    BS, BS, BS. This is Vanity Fair at its worse, thinking that we care who any of these people are. As if they mattered.

    They don’t. Vanity Fair wants to pump them up because it makes the magazine appear relevant, when all it’s really doing is acting as a footstool for the wealthy and celebrated.

    • *blinkblink* Um, how can I “prefer” someone I have never met? In the class/culture/Princeton vs. Harvard sense, that is. (If we’re going to get snooty none of them went to MIT, so what do THEY have to be proud of? 😉 ) Never met Bezos, never met a publisher. By their deeds ye shall know them.

      Maybe if I knew Beelzebezos was “an excitable mad inventor” I’d like him personally, but I might like “soft-spoken and impeccably articulate” too. Even, and this might be a shock to the writer, if they hadn’t gone to college at all. Your privilege, I see it.

    • Right. They also appear to believe that what the New York Times thinks still matters.

    • It may have started with books, but it’s not about books anymore. Amazon is a virtual flea market. It’s about having access to your email, knowing your birthday and that of your friends, knowing what you buy and when you buy it.
      Selling ads that are relevent to you, the person with cookies installed, and it’s okay if you erase the cookies, because they have a file on you thicker than any other agency.

      Really people, Amazon is not about the books anymore. Amazon local and the dozens of off shoot businesses they’ve created are just as relevant and growing more so everyday.

      • Amazon’s not the only one. Facebook, LinkedIn, even my evil-overlord-of-choice, Google – we users are their product in many ways, accepting free services in exchange for adding our data to their machine.

        Personally, I see it as a win-win. I love seeing targeted ads for things I’m actually interested in, instead of crap that annoys me. I love the free services from Google, and don’t mind the fact that, for example, GPS data on where I am and how fast I’m moving contributes to the accuracy of their traffic estimates in Google Maps. It’s a digital ecosystem, with a lot of unconventional give and take.

        And sure, we each have to evaluate whether an exchange like that is worth it, based on our own values and tolerance level. For instance, I refuse to play Zynga games on Facebook because for me, personally, giving them my data is not equal to the negligible enjoyment I could get out of playing – but for people who enjoy the games a lot, the exchange is much more equal.

      • And let’s not forget all the small Mom ‘n’ Pop businesses that sell through Amazon. The Zon is actually empowering small businesses, which would probably fail if not for Zon.

        I usually buy through these MnP’s whenever I can. Primarily because they’re usually cheaper to buy and ship than Amazon Prime. Plus, I like supporting small businesses.

  2. Are you KIDDING me? He thought the ISIS analogy was such a good idea that he should trot it out a second time? Andrew Wylie is a horrible human being.

    • I read the article a few days ago and think I remember that within it the writer admits that he is repped by Wylie.

  3. I thought it was a wonderfully even handed article. The writer wrote about the viewpoints of people in the trad world and those outside of it.

    The last paragraph was the clincher I thought:

    ‘He took me over to his window, which looked out over Seattle’s downtown. Due largely to Amazon’s expansion, Seattle is one of the fastest-growing cities in America. The size of the self-publishing program alone within Amazon is already so large that, because the company does not reveal any sales figures about self-publishing, some believe that statistics about book publishing in general can no longer be trusted. Some huge and growing part of the market is simply unaccounted for. Berman pointed at the dozens of yellow and red construction cranes that rose in spikes above Seattle all the way to the water. He made sure I was looking and said, “That’s all Amazon.”’

    • Agreed WES. The except we see here seems like a reasonably fair report of the history of Amazon’s ascendance and what we are now seeing.

    • That ending really confused me. Seattle is the home to over half of Microsoft’s 30,000 employees and bus them in each day (although many drive). Boeing employ 60,000 and many of them commute from Downtown. Starbucks is headquartered close to Amazon and post-Frasier Seattle has a thriving TV and movie production industry. So how exactly does a large eBook self-publishing industry become the sole driver of the growth of Downtown Seattle? While we are on location issues, Bezos’ garage was not (in those days) in Seattle, but Bellvue, a town bordering Redmond.

      • When I read that my thought was that J.B. was looking at something being built (downtown) and meant he was also going to build Amazon. It wasn’t a Seattle thing, more a representation of his goal to build a company. Although as you say it was confusing.

        • It should be noted that the scene with the cranes is Steve Berman, an lawyer who specializes in class action lawsuits (he started a class action against the price-fix five, for one example). The scene comes off much different when you don’t think it is an Amazon person.

      • The lawyer was probably referring to Amazon’s new headquarters in I think a neighborhood right next to downtown. From what I read, Amazon chose an up and coming neighborhood, a place with lots of lofts and stuff that young techies want to live in, and decided to base their entire operations there.

        • Here it is:

          http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/26/us/as-amazon-stretches-seattles-downtown-is-reshaped.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

          ‘The result in South Lake Union, previously a low-rise, low-rent warehouse district with ties to the city’s gritty maritime past, is a flood of cash, construction detours and dust. Increases to the city’s tax base aside, some people are apprehensive about whether the growth could outstrip the city’s ability to keep up.

          “South Lake Union was a place that people drove through, not to,” John Schoettler, Amazon’s director of global real estate and facilities, said in an interview. “Once we started development there, everything started to spring up around us.”’

        • The lawyer was looking at Downtown (which is the financial district, not South Lake Union) but claiming that Amazon was responsible for the cranes all around the city (and they are all around the city as a trip to the top of the Space Needle will reveal). Those cranes are building apartment blocks for tech workers with a lot of the building concentrated in the Capitol Hill neighbourhood because that is where you catch the Microsoft shuttle bus. The crazier part is sandwiching a statement about self-publishing between that as the Amazon employee ranks are not made up primarily of KDP workers.

    • Certainly more honest than most.

      And I don’t begrudge the author for pointing out the Princeton vs Harvard thing – it feeds right into their constituency.

  4. When, finally, at the press launch of the Kindle, Bezos announced that new releases and best-sellers would be priced at $9.99, the publishers had a fit. Then they checked their freshly inked contracts with Amazon and realized that they had forgotten something. They had no control over the price.

    Interesting. The very people who perpetrate the most draconian, disrespectful contracts against writers didn’t bother to do their due diligence before signing their own contracts. If this were a movie I would have scoffed at that plot hole. But it’s real life, so I laugh 🙂

  5. I thought the article was pretty good overall, except for Andrew Wylie’s usual ridiculousness.

  6. Sure there are a few things I question, such as what Bill pointed out. A wrong interpretation on his part, but I’d say also unimportant to the underlying story. What I see is a traditionally published author or at least wannabe since he says he’s represented by Wylie’s agency. (I’m not seeing any books written by him by Amazon, hence the possibility of being a wannabe, unless he’s been “disappeared.”) And this is in a high profile magazine (or at least the companion website. But unless the full article, which I won’t have time to read until evening, is vastly different than the parts PG excerpted, it is even handed. No obvious flaws in facts. Here’s a partial list of what we rarely, if ever, see:

    Amazon didn’t kill indie bookstores, monster chains did and they’re now coming back.

    An acknowledgement that not everyone even has access to a bookstore of any kind, especially not with the inventory of even a B&N.

    Has anyone who mentioned AU ever talk about how those who signed were recruited? Now we have someone saying Wylie emailed those represented by his agency and asked (told?) them to sign. Can we extrapolate that to others?

    Points out the elitism behind the NYT’s taking sides in the Amazon-Hachette battle.

    To me, this article is a positive development.

  7. I’ve only read the part that’s excerpted here, but agree that the excerpt is pretty even-handed.

    But, I wondered about this:

    In this way, the Amazon-Hachette dispute mirrors the wider culture wars that have been playing out in America since at least the 1960s. On the one side, super-wealthy elites employing populist rhetoric and mobilizing non-elites; on the other side, slightly less wealthy elites struggling to explain why their way of life is worth preserving.<

    But, who's the "super-wealthy elites" employing populist rhetoric and the "slightly less wealthy elites"…? Based on the excerpt, I'm guessing Bezos/ZON is the super-wealthy elite – but does he really think that James Patterson or Turow aren't elites – in comparison to all of the mid-list authors who are now making a living writing via Amazon?

    Likewise, the last paragraph (not in this excerpt) that W.E.S finds so telling, that ends, "Berman pointed at the dozens of yellow and red construction cranes that rose in spikes above Seattle all the way to the water. He made sure I was looking and said, “That’s all Amazon.”’ This, to me, retains the flavor of Amazon is the giant, Amazon takes over the world.

    It seems for some people, the meme of themselves fighting the Overlord is so addictive they make no effort to see how well it actually fits the circumstances. Lots of "little guys" are flourishing because of this particular Dark Lord.

    • Good point, Judith. I didn’t take it that way. Maybe in another situation where I leaned in that direction, I would have.

      To your last question, I had a friend post on Facebook the other day that he had Amazon prime and was using them for a lot of things, but was quick to point out that he tried to get things locally when he could. I responded that a lot of the rhetoric about evil Amazon didn’t hold up when scrutinized and that many of the things he bought were from Mom and Pop organizations working through Amazon, plus that they had made it possible for more authors to make a living with their writing than ever before. I half expected someone, not him, but a friend of some kind to push back. Instead I got several likes, which implied to me they agreed, and silence. It can’t be pointed out enough that for the majority of people out there all the Amazon is evil stuff is just a bunch of noise they block out while continuing to buy from Amazon.

    • Funny, but when I read that excerpt about the cranes, I thought — “opportunity”, “innovation” and “growth” and not “Beelzebezos Astride The World Like The Colossus Of Rome”… But then again, maybe that’s just me. 😉

  8. I read this like Snoopy hears humans: “Blah blahhh blahh New York blaahh blah.”

    Regards from Flyover Country. We stopped needing New York and its edicts some years ago.

    • Same here. Not sure what was so even handed and fair here. The guy mentions advances as a reason to stick with legacy…People must be in a magnanimous mood today.

      It’s interesting to hear about an industry I will thankfully never have to engage with. It’s like a history lesson.

  9. It’s a great time to be an Indie.

    I don’t owe allegiance to you, you, or you.

    I don’t have to sign that, that, or that.

    I don’t give a damn where you went to school. My only question for you is: do your words make me want to read on?

    My world.

    • Best definition of “freedom” yet.

    • That whole where’d-you-go-to-school thing puzzled the hell out of me when I was living in New York. After I moved away, I didn’t notice it happening as much.

      I’m not sure why it’s so important to them (and it’s worth noting that the game mostly seemed to be played by Ivy Leaguers). I mean, Jeff Bezos graduated nearly 30 years ago. Does anyone think that what he does now is still determined by a place he left behind three decades back?

      I suppose you do if you think that getting into college—which you did when you were all of 18—is still your most important accomplishment in life.

      • Not that I have a great deal of experience with it, but it is a pretty common shorthand for identifying the social class of someone. That’s something that is pretty prevalent in the Northeast and Old South, but less so elsewhere in the US. Sometimes you will hear it come up when people identify what their family relationships are (“part of the Kennedy clan”).

        The social mobility in other parts of the US isn’t respected greatly in New York.

  10. “Western culture I could take or leave, but the part about me sent a chill down my spine. This is not what you want to hear from your literary agent”

    My favorite quote from the article

  11. “acting as a kind of local literary bank, in anticipation of future sales.”

    More like a pawn shop, I’d say, except that pawn shops give your jewelry back after you pay off the loan.

  12. This canard really set me off:

    There were genre writers on both sides of the dispute, but on the publishing side were huddled the biographers, urban historians, midlist novelists—that is, all the people who were able to eke out a living because publishers still paid advances, acting as a kind of local literary bank, in anticipation of future sales.

    “And, Keith, you will not be able to afford to write a book.… No one, unless they have inherited $50 million, will be able to afford to write a serious work of history, of poetry, of biography, a novel—anything. The stakes are Western culture.”

    The people most likely to be able to live off advances aren’t writing the new pillars of Western civilization, they’re writing genre or celebrity books, and it’s a rockstar few of them. This lie about advances floating (midlist!) authors (for years!) was always infuriating, but coupling it to “why the publishers have to charge a lot and give writers lousy contracts” soured me a bit on the article.

    Other than that unchallenged gospel, I agree that it is one of the more balanced (and historical) analyses of this topic I’ve seen.

    • “eke out a living” is the operative phrase…

      eke1
      ēk/
      verb
      manage to support oneself or make a living with difficulty
      obtain or create, but just barely
      to get with great effort or strain

  13. Very old news!

  14. All this time buying and selling stuff at Amazon, and I never knew where Bezos and Grandinetti went to school. Worse, the question never crossed my mind. On so many levels, this insignificant ASIN feels so ashamed.

  15. Thanks, P.G. I read the entire article, and the comments thereto plus the TPV comments. Yes, there are facts in this one and a slight desire to be unbiased. But where was the outrage over comparing Amazon to ISIS? That was uncalled for the first time Wylie said it, and tells more about him than Bezos. If he were my agent, I’d fire him. Oh, wait, I don’t have an agent anymore. And only one publisher (not a Big-5) besides Amazon. I’m part of the industry that isn’t counted, but which is rapidly, thank goodness, taking over.

  16. I’m just waiting for poor misunderstood Bezos to pen a little letter, perhaps the Wednesday before Thanksgiving …

    ———————————-

    I am so sorry that this is so late, but it has been brought to my attention that some believe I and the company I started are keeping them from making as much money as they think they should be. I like making money too, so I know that it is wrong to keep others from making theirs.

    To Hachette, whom we don’t even have a contract to sell their books; to the 900 authors that protested as a group that we are doing them wrong; even that joker that keeps comparing us to the ISIS; I give you your freedom! From this day forward my Amazon will not hold you back, your books will not be seen on our site for the low prices we normally offer so as not to cut into your profit. Instead, if a customer does a search or query for one of your books, we will give them your email address so that you might better direct them to the site that will make you the most profit. This should work out great for you guys with Black Friday coming up to help boost your revenue. (I myself will be picking up t-shirt gifts at http://www.zazzle.com/dpvan1234 ! 😉 )

    By the time you read this I will be on my way to enjoying the Thanksgiving holidays with family and friends and will return to the office Monday.

    Jeff

  17. I found the article very slanted, while trying to pretend to be balanced journalism. There is little real reporting or new information. (Other than long quotes from the writer’s own agent.) It’s very similar to the George Packer piece in the New Yorker six months ago. Starts out presenting the history and then increasingly uses quotes to hit the key message: Amazon is evil. Big publishers are helpless. Something must be done or culture will be destroyed.

    There is nothing negative about the big publishers. The DOL conspiracy is simply their innocent attempts to deal with Amazon. There is nothing about their forcing “standard” contracts on writers and other bad practices. There is nothing negative about the consolidation of publishing houses into big media conglomerates. He even portrays it as good news that there is even more consolidation, because maybe that will help them fight Amazon. Like all the other Amazon fear mongers, somehow the end of advances to writers means the end civilization. That meme has been discredited, over an over, but he never questions it.

    AU and Douglas Preston are trying to protect culture, they are people who “feel very strongly about books.” Self-publishers are dismissed as people who rise “to the defense of their benefactor (Amazon).” Self-publishers are also bitter people who, when they “lashed out at traditional publishing, they often spoke with the passion of the dispossessed. ” Is it possible self-publishers also care about art and literature, but disagree about Amazon’s role?

    Nope, self-publishers arguments “… were self-interested or disingenuous or silly…” He does grant that they show there are two sides to it. The right side “Amazon is evil” and the wrong side which the self-publishers are on. Because, after all, self-publishers just don’t care about books like Douglas Preston.

    He also disputes the idea that rich writers are the one’s complaining, because after all, tech people are even richer. Whale math. (And of course, evil rich tech people are simply using those silly poor self-publishers.)

    He even makes a trip to a desert warehouse, I guess looking for dying Amazon warehouse workers. He must have not found any, because all he can say is that the workers have to walk a lot. A lot of other workers also walk a lot. He fails to mention whether it had air-conditioning. I assume because it did.

    The anti-Amazon PR campaign gets these long “serious reporting” pieces published in the big magazines so they can quote them in the more blatant anti-Amazon hate commentary that will follow. That way they can comment on the latest “news.” Wait for the next shoe to drop on Salon, “As a detailed investigation in Vanity Fair recently revealed, the threat by Amazon is real…”

  18. It seems to take an ever increasing number of words to merely justify the existence of numerous middlemen.

    Agents/publishers/bookstores are merely second-handers: earning their living running interference between the producer (author) and consumer (reader). At $28 per hardcover I have a difficult time seeing that much value.
    I get covers designed and novels edited for less than $500ea, and electronic distribution is less than a fraction of a cent. That is technology.

    Years ago a gentleman named Michael Dell put me out of business with his cheap, direct to consumer PCs and laptops. I used to buy a laptop wholesale from IBM for $3k and sell it to a business for $3.5k. Fast forward a decade and that same machine could be had at Dell.com for under $500.

    I was a needless middleman turned obsolete due to technology. My company went from 50 sales reps to one: the owner’s brother who worked from his kitchen table.

    In the PC industry all manufacturers eventually went direct as did Dell, hawking their wares from websites. Middlemen like myself moved on to other industries (at the time the mortgage mess was ramping up), or learned to provide value added services along with the sale.

    No one cried for us, no one penned endless diatribes on various liberal media outlets, we simply adapted our business models….or found work at another business.

  19. Andrew Wylie proves himself even more of an insufferable clown each time he opens his mouth.

    Keep it up, Bub.

  20. Really even-handed article — I’d recommend reading the whole piece, if you have the time.

    Despite his traditional agent (Wylie at one time), the writer doesn’t shy away from describing both sides with his eyes open.

    Glad to see that at last the story is beginning to include some of the factual information about indie publishing.

    • I was gratified to read a sizeable chunk on pages 4-5 of the VF article that took place in an Amazon warehouse in Bakersfield CA on a hot day (which is most of them in Bakersfield), and didn’t once bring up anything about terrible, horrible working conditions. It’s not exactly a headshot to a zombie meme, but pretty refreshing that the author didn’t bring it up, and he certainly could have done.

      • But why didn’t he mention that a lack of air-conditioning at Amazon warehouses has been repeatedly cited as proof that Amazon is evil? Surely, it’s very relevant as a reporter to investigate, and comment on, what has been a key talking point by Amazon detractors. But he skips over the issue.

        He needed the space to talk about how some of the self-publishers arguments were “silly.” Never once commenting on the comedy coming out of the AU crowd.

  21. It’s telling how biased these so-called news stories really are that we applaud those few that include even a few shreds of fact…

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