Amazon Showing Its Power in the UK; Stephen King affected

According to the New York Times, Amazon “has adopted the literary equivalent of a nuclear option for rebellious publishers” and another Bangor, Maine resident, Stephen King, is affected.

The New York Times article is HERE.

4 thoughts on “Amazon Showing Its Power in the UK; Stephen King affected”

  1. Going nuclear isn’t quite the right analogy. A better one would be a threat along the lines of, “we know where to find your spouse and kids.” Mucking with someone’s book is like threatening their family. And using “Buy Now” buttons to pimp a product so inferior the market has rejected it, BookSurge, is precisely what anti-trust laws exist to halt.

    It also fits with Bezos ‘tin ear’ when it comes to the role of printed books in our society. He claimed in one interview that they’ll soon be as common and practical as horses for transportation now are. For him, books are no more than data to be displayed as crudely and efficiently as possible. (Note how ugly Amazon’s web pages are.) He has the taste of someone who’s indifferent to the context in which a painting or other work of art is displayed, regarding a shipping container as equal to a tastefully designed room. Oscar Wilde described him to near perfection when he referred to those “who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

    Bezos also knows little of history. A century ago people tolerated large, expensive, smelly, troublesome-to-maintain horses only because they had no option. But it’s the printed book that’s the equivalent of a car that never breaks down and never requires fuel. It is always there, behaving predictability and ready to serve us. It’s the Kindle that’s expensive, requires special care and maintenance, and will soon need to be replaced, necessitating some time-consuming, legally authenticating scheme to move the data to a new machine and a new format. I still have books I bought as a kid. I don’t know where articles I wrote a decade ago have gone.

    Bezos, with his obsession with technology, forgets all the ideas that fell by the wayside, rejected for reasons their nerdy inventors never understood. Another metro-Seattle company, Microsoft, was once seduced by that same nightmare, assuming there would be a computer running Windows on every desk on the planet. Look what’s happened to them.

    Digital books have their niche, but Bezos’ zeal flows from the fact that they are good not for readers but for Amazon’s desire to dominate. Eliminate printing, making everything bits, and much of what makes a publisher a publisher (such as book design) goes away. Publishers become little more than middle-men between authors and Amazon. Publishers, editors and authors are to be poorly paid and tasked only with doing what Amazon doesn’t find to be profitable.

    Amazon’s attitude toward publishing reflects that described in the political arena by a recent book, Makers and Takers. Amazon is willing to let others make books only to the extent that it doesn’t interfere with their ability to take a disproportionate share of the profit and power.

    Fortunately, at all levels the makers are rebelling against the taker. This fight is far from over.

  2. Amazon has reached the point now of not being particularly bothered about the ‘makers’, every distribution centre of the Company will have a Print on Demand operation, capable of producing from 500 to 2,000 books per day. The state of the art technology makes the production an easy task. When you consider that Amazon even has a huge unit in Beijing, the world is very much their oyster.

    How do you stop this? How do you stop a 100 tonne quarry truck? Predictions of the demise of Amazon in the same sentence as Microsoft are, well, scary. It has taken Microsoft to run 20 odd years to reach this point. Amazon has not peaked yet, how many of us will fall before it does? I predict an upsurge and boom in the POD output from Amazon, and I fear the courts have little effect when it comes down to the bottom line. There were some who told me in 1989 when I was involved in WORM (Write Once Read Many) laser technology that having a device that could write digitally onto a disc and read it back without it being worn away was far too expensive to survive…….(!!??) They also said nothing would replace the VHS tape…. and the 3.5″ floppy disk was the only way forward for data movement…

    Maybe we are going through another revolution, maybe we need to get a bandwagon that’s moving very fast before we get left behind.

  3. EVERYONE needs to stand up to Amazon. I agree with Author; this isn’t about books and ideas; it’s about power and pushing people around. Although in the long run, Amazon will only hurt itself as readers look elsewhere for a better selection of books.

    What were they thinking?

  4. Now that I have re-visited this article. I note that Amazon is still very much with us, and its Print on Demand appears to be very successful.
    The launch of KINDLE in the UK and the marque II Kindle in the US means MORE electronic vesrions of books available. As authors we need to work WITH Amazon – they will print and sell our books as a package – maybe we don’t need publishers and agents any more….

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