It took me a while to read George Packer’s endless New Yorker piece about the evil empire. No, not the Yankees, Amazon! Most of what he writes about may be news for people outside our business, but all of us much maligned gatekeepers have long known that anyone who doesn’t spout Amazonian corporate-speak like it’s English will feel dazed and confused when dealing with Bezos’ army, and that the company’s strong-man tactics and culture of silence vis a vis the rest of the publishing world seem positively Orwellian.
But what’s interesting about the article is the fact that despite the behemoth’s disdain for publishing as an industry and book readers as a class, Amazon has managed to make books more accessible to a greater number of readers than any entity before it. It has also, although publishers might deny it vehemently, injected a competitive edge (okay, desperation and rage) into the book making process that has lifted traditional publishing out of its complacent, vaguely condescending status quo, and challenged it to think about itself and its role in the marketplace in a new way.
Progress? Who knows? But, the piece is a must-read for all of us who buy books, often with one click. After doing so, I hope you’ll share your thoughts about the role Amazon plays for you as a consumer and as an author.