Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

To Bezos or not to Bezos…that is the question


So yesterday I wrote this whole long thing about Amazon (again) — prompted by Paul Krugman’s column declaring that Amazon’s business strategy is “hurting America.”

This morning I realized: I don’t want to write about Amazon anymore. I want this situation resolved. I don’t want to feel guilty for using Amazon to publish my books. I want all parties to come together in an orgy of good feeling. I want everybody to get their fair share.

And I want banks, oil companies, packaged food manufacturers, agribusiness, car makers, insurance companies, and health care providers to stop hurting America too.

I’m swayed by Krugman, who basically says that Jeff Bezos is today’s John D. Rockefeller and he needs to be stopped, just as Standard Oil was. Amazon is evil. But if Amazon is evil (a word that gets bandied about far too much [ISIS = evil; Amazon = amorally opportunistic?]), then we have a whole hell of a lot of reform to get down to. And we’d better start soon.

I trust Krugman. He’s a Nobel laureate. Good head on his shoulders. But I’m glad he writes for the New York Times and not the Washington Post.

Because it’s owned by Jeff Bezos…

UPDATE: Interesting back-and-forth today between a pro- and an anti-Amazonian. Damn if they both don’t make viable points!

UPDATE II: And now this from David Gaughran, reporting on a brand new deal between Amazon and Simon & Schuster. One day maybe we’ll learn what Hachette was balking at, but it’s apparently something S&S can live with.

(Image via All Funny)

13 comments on “To Bezos or not to Bezos…that is the question

  1. John W. Howell
    October 21, 2014

    This battle is like a pin in the eye. Will feel so good when it is over.

    • Kevin Brennan
      October 21, 2014

      See update II in the post. There’s a deal between Amazon and Simon & Schuster now, which should cause a ripple effect.

      • John W. Howell
        October 21, 2014

        Hey, no fair updating posts. I don’t get update announcements

  2. Dylan Hearn
    October 21, 2014

    One key difference between Standard Oil and Amazon is that Amazon is pushing prices down for the consumer. It also offers much better terms to authors than publishers do. If this ever changes I’ll be the first to cry foul, but at the moment in the battle between the two mega corporations, my sympathies lie with Amazon, both as an author and a reader.

    • Kevin Brennan
      October 21, 2014

      Very true. In traditional publishing, successful authors get great terms, while mid-list writers tend to get crap. AMZN has leveled the playing field on that front.

  3. sknicholls
    October 21, 2014

    I agree with Dylan on this one. The monopoly mentality is just when there is competition, but really, no one is quite doing what Amazon is doing for writers and readers. Amazon has no issues if you go with smashwords as well as them, provided you don’t have others underselling them. You don’t get the full benefits of Amazon if you do, but you certainly are not excluded.

    • Kevin Brennan
      October 21, 2014

      That’s the thing. Barnes & Noble and Apple have kind of phoned in their online book strategy, and they’re getting their clocks cleaned.

      Capitalism. Ain’t it grand?

  4. kingmidget
    October 21, 2014

    They both make viable points? Hmmmm. So the world isn’t black and white after all. I think Amazon has done some really, really good things for consumers, while doing some very, very bad things for the com

    • kingmidget
      October 21, 2014

      … Competitive marketplace. Which in the long run hurts consumers, employers, and employees.

      • Kevin Brennan
        October 21, 2014

        Yeah, my beef with Amazon has less to do with the publishing business and more to do with destructive employment practices and Wal-Mart-like effects on the economy.

        Ma Bell used to be evil, as I recall. Things tend to equilibrate over time. If we’re lucky…

      • kingmidget
        October 21, 2014

        Odd thing … Cost of telephone services went up after the break up of Ma Bell. Or at least that’s my memory.

      • Kevin Brennan
        October 21, 2014

        The new companies thought of more things to charge us for, that’s for sure. It got a lot more complex. But as with burgeoning bank fees, consumers get reamed.


  5. 1WriteWay
    October 21, 2014

    Here’s what I think of Paul Krugman: http://youtu.be/XOYAuk809fY

    Yup, I guess there would be some complexity in all this capitalistic caterwauling. I know it’s simplistic (juvenile?) to say Amazon or Walmart or any “too big to fail” enterprise is evil, but their bottom line is to make money. If that means paying their warehouse workers below poverty wages so they can keep their prices low and their customers, well, they would argue that they are giving us what we ask for. And they would be right. For my part, when I have a choice, I’ll make a choice. When I don’t, I buy from Amazon 😉

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This entry was posted on October 21, 2014 by in Publishing and tagged , , , .
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