Popular media has a long history of bashing the rich and powerful by referencing them as villains. For example, both Rupert Murdoch and Richard Branson were parodied as Bond villains.
Now James Patterson is getting in on the fun. His next novel, The Store, is due out next week, and CNBC reports that it paints a caricature of Amazon as the villain:
Prolific best-selling author James Patterson told CNBC on Friday that his new work of fiction about an out-of-control big e-commerce retailer is not really about Amazon or its billionaire founder Jeff Bezos.
"I'm not out here to necessarily beat up Amazon as much as deal with this whole area of monopolies and megalomaniacs," Patterson said in a "Squawk Box" interview. "This is a strange era … [of] techy billionaires who are kind of running the world now."
In describing his new book "The Store" as scary and "very Stepford Wives" in an over-the-top way, Patterson was not entirely uncomfortable with comparisons to the power of real-life online giants. "Amazon certainly fits," he argued.
The author of more than 150 books with sales of more than 350 million copies, Patterson also expressed his displeasure with Amazon's dominance in publishing.
"They take over books which I don't like that much. They take over supermarkets. The next is going to be the news. They got The Washington Post. The next thing it will be the Amazon 'Squawk Box,'" he offered, speaking in hyperbole.
Patterson did acknowledge that Bezos himself, not Amazon the company, owns The Washington Post. But he argued, "Jeff Bezos is Amazon," so they should not be viewed as separate.
Even as he criticized Amazon, Patterson was realistic about his dependence on the e-commerce giant. He said "The Store" comes out this coming Monday, but readers can preorder it now. "On Amazon, sure," and other online and physical book stores, he added.
There's a video at the link, but it might not play for you.
With 150 books published, Patterson is probably running out of ideas for villains so it would make sense that he would eventually get around to Amazon.
But claiming Amazon (or techies) are going to take over the world? Come on now, that's just lazy writing. Patterson might as well have the villain twirl a mustache while monologuing about how his aerial drones are beaming mind control rays into customers' brains while the hero being stretched between Kiva bots.
It's that much of a cliche, yes.
The Store is listed on Amazon for pre-order as a $15 ebook. That's too rich for my blood, but I would like to know what you think of the book.