Friday, June 06, 2014

How Do You Handle A Satirist? 

Jeff Bezos of Amazon is finding out.  Stephen Colbert has taken him to task for blocking access to a book publisher with whom Amazon is negotiating.  The TV sequence is funny and angry (Look at the whole segment.)  Amazon has remained silent because it is in the middle of negotiations with Hachette, which coincidentally publishes Colbert's books.   Should Amazon defend itself?  It should.  Boycotting books is a direct strike against the firm's reputation of being the world's most complete bookstore.  It also smacks of arrogance.  If Amazon can throw its retail weight around, what happens to publishers?  They become a vassal of the merchant.  It would not necessarily be dangerous for that to happen.  Publishers can still select manuscripts to usher into print, but there is a risk that Amazon will eventually dictate what they can sell.  That would gag new and innovative voices looking to be heard for the first time.  Whatever the reasons for Amazon's boycott, it should end it as quickly as possible before the company's reputation is marred permanently..


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