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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Amazon and book publishing

OK, there's definitely a perspective here. But having just come from a library gathering where we wondered openly, "Is Amazon evil?" the following links may be of interest. Of greatest concern to me personally is the piece by Michael Naumann. The Germans have mandated fixed pricing, set by publishers. Horrors! And yet ... publishers thrive, literary fiction thrives, independent bookstores thrive, and books are cheaper in Germany than anywhere in Europe. Are there lessons to be leaned for the U.S.? The Nation Magazine Explores Amazon With a cover proclaiming "Amazon and the Conquest of Publishing," the latest issue of the Nation magazine focused upon the online retailing giant.

In his article "The Amazon Effect," former editor of the Los Angeles Times Book Review Steve Wasserman chronicled the history and current status of the company. He observed that from the start, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos "understood two things. One was the way the Internet made it possible to banish geography, enabling anyone with an Internet connection and a computer to browse a seemingly limitless universe of goods with a precision never previously known and then buy them directly from the comfort of their homes. The second was how the Internet allowed merchants to gather vast amounts of personal information on individual customers."

"Why does Amazon now have customers do the search chores it used to do for them, and in innovative ways?" That question was addressed by Anthony Grafton in "Search Gets Lost."

Michael Naumann, editor-in-chief of the German magazine Cicero who headed Holt in New York City in the late 1990s before becoming Germany's culture minister for three years, examined "How Germany Keeps Amazon at Bay and Literary Culture Alive," looking at ways the country's fixed-price laws "curtail the power of retail chains and help to sustain a vibrant literary culture."

Introducing its slide show "Ten Reasons to Avoid Doing Business with Amazon," the Nation asked "what's at stake in the battle over e-commerce and why should you avoid doing business with"

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