Fatally cheap


To many book professionals, Amazon is a ruthless predator. The company claims to want a more literate world—and it came along when the book world was in distress, offering a vital new source of sales. But then it started asking a lot of personal questions, and it created dependency and harshly exploited its leverage; eventually, the book world realized that Amazon had its house keys and its bank-account number, and wondered if that had been the intention all along.
This comes from an eye-opening and rather chilling account in a recent New Yorker of how Amazon works and what it is doing to the book industry. Whatever damage it might be doing, Amazon still has the huge advantage of being able to source just about anything ever written, which your local independent bookshop, whatever good it might be doing, simply can't match. I think a lot of us were sad but ultimately willing to see the local bookshop go under, but I doubt we'd show the same complacency if we thought publishing itself, books as we know them, might be priced out of existence.