The A word – Amazon and Publishing

So I just read this amazing, thorough report in the New Yorker about Amazon, it’s history, and the issues surrounding its ascent in the publishing world.

I followed that up with this insightful addendum by the author, George Packer, a short companion piece that is refreshing in its thoughtfulness. 

I think these articles are really important reading to get an understanding of why the publishing industry and Amazon are at such loggerheads. I am not one of those persons who thinks of either traditional publishers or Amazon as the devil, and I’ve certainly given self-publishing some thought, but in the end, I went with a small press for my debut novel. This article helped articulate some of the reasons why I hesitated to jump on board the Amazon boat.

I just think that as a distributor, Amazon does a bang up job.It has certainly helped writers get to readers and get paid way better for it. It has bought a lot of positives to the industry. But we can’t just gloss over the negatives. And none of that, good or bad, means it knows a thing about what makes a good book. I don’t think Amazon should be in publishing until it actually gives a crap about the books as content.

Writers using Amazon to earn a living wage–I’m good with that. But inserting yourself into every area of the creative process so that you become the only money-making game in town–not so cool with that. Just because you sell plants doesn’t mean you’re going to be a great gardener.


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