Evil stalks the land. Evil. Badness. Wrong. Sin. Naughtiness. And its (their?) name is (are?) not legion, but Amazon. Thus the opening keynote speech by Anthony Horowitz at the London Book Fair’s Publishing for Digital Minds event, as relayed by Digital Book World and a hail of Tweets.
What Horowitz actually said, apparently, was “Amazon are evil bastards – I loathe them, I fear them … but I use them all the time because they’re wonderful and that’s part of the problem.” Specifically, he highlighted the demise of physical bookstores, Amazon’s corporate tax policies, and the woes of publishers, especially smaller ones, faced by digital disruption.
Interesting, that. Apparently, Penguin Random House’s use of Author Solutions to gouge would-be writers for criminal amounts of money doesn’t earn them the evil monicker. Nor did the Apple price-fixing conspiracy which saw the Big Six (now Five) try to hold up ebook prices artificially, count as culpable badness. But no, Amazon doesn’t have a cuddly penguin (albeit appropriated from somewhere else) to hide behind.
I’m not exonerating Amazon – Horowitz could even be completely right about how unprincipled and unscrupulous they are. And judging by his book jackets, he knows all about evil. But I do know they have made good things happen for a lot of writers. And publishers have made a lot of bad things happen. Can we please move away from this infantile Goodies versus Baddies debate?