Video Debate: Amazon – Business As Usual?
Earlier this evening the NY Public Library hosted a publishing industry debate on everyone’s favorite malevolent retailer. That debate was streamed live, and I have just confirmed that the archive of the debate is also available after the fact.
The video is embedded below, and I encourage you to watch. I just finished it watching it for the second time, and I am having trouble understanding the viewpoints of the industry insiders.
- They keep talking about how they support book culture by publishing books that won’t be successful, and I remember that they are taking money away from successful authors to do that.
- They say that they bring authors along, and I recall the many authors who don’t even get in the door or are dropped after their first or second book (or in the case of Val McDermid, her third).
- They say that books wouldn’t be published without copyright law, and I remember the millennium without it. I also remember who, when he was being flagrantly copied by US publishers who were taking advantage of a British author not having a US copyright, still worked out deals with certain publishers so they would get the earliest access on the condition that they paid a royalty.
- And then there’s the worst case scenario (at about 30:00) where one pundit predicts Amazon, after killing off major publishers and independent publishers, will become a vanity press and start extracting fees from self-published authors. Edit: As one commenter pointed out, "How is Amazon maybe becoming a vanity publisher any worse than the current situation with Randy Penguin and Author Solutions?" Thanks, Greg!
I will add, though, that the point that was raised about the analogy between Agency and ASCAP bears further investigation. I’m not sure it’s valid, but I need to look further.
The panelists for this debate were almost universally against Amazon, with the token neutral voice added at the last minute.
- Moderator: Tina Bennett, literary agent at WME.;
- Best-selling author James Patterson;
- Morgan Entrekin, publisher and president of Grove Atlantic;
- Bob Kohn, attorney and founder of EMusic.com;
- Tim Wu, law professor and theorist of “net neutrality;”
- Danielle Allen, political theorist, author of a new book on the Declaration of Independence and elected chair of the Pulitzer Prize Board; and
- David Vandagriff, intellectual property lawyer (aka the editor of The Passive Voice blog).
image by cjjaz