Answer: You can tell when even The Bookseller is willing to come out and name the partisan group that is behind the event.
A bunch of people are getting together in Washington DC next Wednesday ostensibly to debate Amazon's impact on the publishing industry. If you've read Konrath's and Eisler's post on the event, you might think that it is being hosted by a think tank called New America, but today The Bookseller set us straight.
Lisa Campbell reported on Wednesday that the even is actually being held by Authors United, a group whose raison d'etre is "Amazon is evil and must be stopped":
Campaign group Authors United is set to hold an event to discuss Amazon’s “enormous market power” and the "misuse" of that power, in Washington DC next week.
The event, to be held on Wednesday 27th January at the New American Foundation, is entitled Amazon's Book Monopoly: A Threat to Freedom of Expression? and aims to “shine a light on how Amazon's monopoly, and its heavy-handed behaviour, are already affecting the free flow of ideas in our society.”
Those participating in the discussion include Scott Turow, Susan Cheever, Mark Coker, Franklin Foer, Jonathan Kanter, Eric Simonoff, Maurice Stucke, Lina Khan, Haley Sweetland Edwards, Barry Lynn, Douglas Preston, and John R MacArthur.
I had planned to pay as little attention to this event as I could.
The topic been debated to death, and what with this event's participants all drawn from the "I hate Amazon" club, it was damned obvious that the gathering was going to a one-sided propaganda event where Amazon would get a drumhead court martial before receiving a predetermined verdict.
I mean, the loaded question in the title (Amazon's Book Monopoly: a threat to free expression?) was enough to tell us where this event would end up, so there was little reason to give it much attention.
But then The Bookseller announced the event, and in doing so they dropped several clues about just how biased next week's event will be. This event is not being held by any impartial outside group; instead it is hosted by Authors United, a group which even The Bookseller can't pretend is unbiased.
No, The Bookseller described Authors United as a "campaign group", not as a group of authors, or even as author advocates. That description is a concession of just how partisan Authors United is and what that group has been up to over the past 18 months.
The Bookseller has stopped maintaining a pretense that Authors United is impartial; instead, AU is on a campaign against Amazon.
Of course, everyone knew this already, and that pretense was (at best) threadbare, but the fact that an industry mouthpiece like The Bookseller has decided to drop the pretense says a lot.
image by Andrew Gustar