All the News that Bashes Amazon, by Len Edgerly

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I love The New York Times and am a loyal subscriber to its Kindle version. But honestly. Are all of the Times’s objective, hard-hitting journalists in the pockets of New York publishers? When you scan the prestigious addresses of the five Defendant Publishers listed in the Department of Justice’s antitrust complaint, they are all in the same Manhattan borough as the Gray Lady, if I have my New York geography right. So when David Carr or Julie Bosman or David Streitfeld report a story involving a company located 2,900 miles from Manhattan, maybe it’s not surprising that they tend to favor the home team.

I find it irritating, but it doesn’t really matter. Nicholson Baker’s writerly takedown of the Kindle in The New Yorker in 2009 didn’t slow the advance e-readers one pixel. And if The New York Times continues to offer one-sided coverage of the e-book revolution, portraying Amazon as the death star for literature instead of a facilitator of new audiences for independent authors and more affordable choices for readers, it won’t matter much. Disruption will continue to occur 2,900 miles away from Manhattan at the hands of Bezos and company.

I see The Times does have a Seattle bureau. I’d love to hear from them once in a while!

(Via The Kindle Chronicles.)

11 Comments on All the News that Bashes Amazon, by Len Edgerly

  1. Why not look at the Seattle Times itself. Within the past few weeks it has had several eye-opening articles about Amazon’s predatory practices. Perhaps the Seattle Times is prejudiced against Amazon because it is in Seattle, virtually next door to Amazon.

    I also notice that you didn’t mention the article in today’s New York Times about the small Tulsa, OK, publisher that pulled all of its pbooks from Amazon in February because it dislikes Amazon’s business methods. I wonder if Tulsa, OK is also prejudiced against Amazon because it, too, is thousands of miles from Seattle.

    I understand being irritated and tired of the Amazon bashing. Quite frankly, I’d be happy if Amazon reformed and I could stop complaining about Amazon. But to base your irritation on a supposed bias because of physical distance of the writers and the publishers from Amazon seems a stretch to me.

  2. It’s like the Microsoft hate-fest that we all lived through . If you’re on top, you’re the enemy…and Amazon is defintely on top of the e-book market.

    This whole e-book vs A5/6 thing is being blamed on Amazon, when, in truth it was Apple and the A5 that created this whole agency pricing mess. And they did it because they were trying to squash Amazon.

    Is Amazon perfect? Of course not! But from a customer standpoint, they are the best. Yes, they’re working their “no sales tax” thing to death–but customers are on the winning end as long as that battle goes on. They stood up to Murdoch when he wanted access to customer info…again, the customer won. They may have aquired some other businesses through predatory means, (what mega-corp hasn’t?), but, again, once that company is brought under Amazon’s wing, the customer wins with better prices, better customer service, better shipping.

    As for basic customer service, no company does it better than Amazon. (What company replaces a five year old device with an upgraded model for 50% off like Amazon just did for my husband when his original 2007 Kindle died?)

    Maybe if some of these whiners tried copying Amazon’s customer friendly attitude instead of fighting them, they might move closer to the top of the retail ladder…and that includes the A5/6 publishers.

    Note to the A5: raising e-book prices on 6 year old books that have been available in paperback for less than the e-book price for years is NOT good customer service. Telling a bookseller that he is no longer permitted to have a special sale or temporarily reduce the price on a book in order to attract buyers is also not good customer service. Special note to Random House: raising library e-book prices by 300% is definitely not good customer service.

  3. Unfortunately it is the readers who might ultimately loose in this battle between the Publishers and Apple on one side and Amazon on the other. While I think there was just too much cooperation between the Agency 5 and Apple to explain it as anything other than price fixing, I also think that Amazon was unfairly selling at a loss to dominate the ebook market.

    In any case, if any single player, Amazon, Apple or someone else ever gains control of the book market then we will all be the poorer.

  4. I have no idea what the Seattle Times considers “predatory practices” on the part of Amazon but, I think it’s self evident that the large publishers and Apple colluded to artificially increase the cost of ebooks. Len’s comments are right on as far as I’m concerned. I would only advise him to ditch the NYT’s. Their slant on reality goes beyond what’s happening in the world of ebooks.

  5. On the subject of Amazon’s supposed consumer-friendliness:

    Why do only current ebook-lovers count as consumers?

    It’s not just the evil publishers who are stuck-in-their-physical-book-loving-ways. It’s also 70% of the population at large!

    I’m not trying to defend or even understand this mindset, but it certainly applies to a lot of people.

    So put yourself in the shoes of a consumer who doesn’t own- or want- a Kindle. For the sake of argument, lets say you are part of the 20% of the population that doesn’t even have an internet connection, so apps and even online book purchases are out too.

    Are these people supposed to be happy that they are either 1) locked out of the lowest prices and exclusive deals, or 2) forced to buy an expensive doodad they don’t otherwise want just to get them?

    They certainly shouldn’t be happy if they are literally forced to buy a Kindle due to the closure of traditional distributors.

    The reason I mention this here is that the majority of the New York Times paying consumers get the print version, not the Kindle version. So which side of the debate do you think they fall on?

  6. You don’t have to own a Kindle to take advantage of Amazon’s e-book prices. Their e-book software is FREE and available for iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, Android phones and tablets as well as computers. You can read any Amazon e-book on any of these devices.

    No one is being left out of the e-book market because they don’t own a Kindle. You will have to own some kind of device, but how many book buyers don’t already own one that will work just fine?

  7. Peter:

    If the larger publishers had their way, Amazon would not be able to discount DTB’s either. January’s perspective should also be helpful.

  8. @january and tbsteph

    “but how many book buyers don’t already own one that will work just fine?”

    Well, I already told you 20% of Americans don’t even have internet access. So those people are entirely cut off from Amazon, even for physical books.

    Then, on top of that 50% of Americans don’t have a smartphone, and 70% don’t own a tablet. My guess is there’s a lot of overlap, so probably 40% of the population can’t access ebooks unless they are chained to their home computer.

    But, those people have no voice here.

  9. Peter – I have no idea if your statistics are accurate. However, even assuming they are, society already provides access to books for such people. It’s called the public library.

  10. And that’s why we have libraries where one can borrow as many books as one wants for free.

    Your argument seemed to be that you had to buy a Kindle in order to read e-books. I was just pointing out that owning a K isn’t necessary. If you don’t own ANY electronic device then you probably couldn’t care less about the price of an e-book.

    You’re right, those people don’t have a voice here. Why would they want one?

  11. Peter…

    And that is why we have public libraries.

    Your original argument seemed to be that you had to own a K in order to read e-books from Amazon. I was just pointing out that owning a K is not necessary.

    If you don’t own ANY electronic device, then e-books are not going to interest–no matter what the price is.

    You’re right, those people don’t have a voice here. Why would they want one?

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