That question has sparked numerous arguments on the web, and next week it's going to be the inspiration for a live debate. New America, in collaboration with Future Tense, will be holding a debate next Wednesday in NYC.
According to the website:
We've been saying that Amazon has revolutionized books ever since the company first enabled us to order a book late at night in our pj's ... and at a discount. But Amazon's impact is increasingly being felt not only by readers, but by authors, publishers, and editors as well. Once merely an online book retailer, Amazon is arguably becoming the most influential arbiter of publishable content, and a threat to the traditional author-publisher-reader intermediation. There is no disputing that Amazon will play an outsized role in shaping the future of books, but only time will tell whether its endgame is a desirable destination for book culture.
This event was only announced yesterday and only crossed my desk this morning (thanks, William), so I'm still getting a feel for it. But so far I have the feeling that it will be less uniformly hostile to Amazon than the similar debate which was held in July 2014.
Next week's debate will feature Hugh Howey as well as a publisher (Lucas Wittmann), bookstore owner (Sarah McNally), technology journalist (Nick Thompson), and the host, Manoush Zomorodi. This strikes me as having a good chance of resulting in a discussion more nuanced than Amazon: Threat or Menace (as I called the July debate).
Alas, I don't think I will be able to see it. I can't make it up to NYC on such short notice, and I can't see any indication that the event will be livestreamed.
If you are going, let me know. I'll give you my phone number and you can call me so I can listen in. I'm kidding, of course; I was just told that there will be a podcast released after the fact.
You can RSVP on the New America website.