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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Sherman Alexie and Colbert on Amazon vs. Hachette: "You Root for the Authors."

Posted by Erik Henriksen on Thu, Jun 5, 2014 at 12:14 PM

The battle between Amazon and Hachette heated up even more yesterday, when two great things happened: Paul Constant published a strong piece in our sister paper The Stranger, "It's Time to Turn Your Back on Amazon," that not only summed up the Amazon/Hachette fight but laid out, in pretty fucking stark terms, "why the online giant's fight with a publisher signals the end of guilt-free Amazon purchases." Read the whole thing, but the short version: Anyone paying even the slightest bit of attention over the past few weeks now finds it all but impossible to overlook how sketchy Amazon is.

Then, last night on The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert (who's published by Hachette, natch) switched gears, going from making promotional videos for Amazon to declaring himself "not just mad at Amazon" but "mad prime." Then he brought out Sherman Alexie, and the two of them encouraged Colbert viewers to buy Edan Lepucki's new (Hachette) novel California—not from Amazon, but from Powell's. And to let everybody know about it. Then this happened.


I'll be the first to admit that—like most people I know—I'm in pretty deep with Amazon by now, as far as media consumption goes: When I read ebooks, I read them on a Kindle; when I read digital comics, it's via the Amazon-owned Comixology; I keep track of what I'm reading and have read via the Amazon-owned Goodreads; I've been watching Louie and Cosmos on Amazon Instant Video; when I buy Blu-rays, I do so through Amazon. For me at least, one of the things that's made it hard to break away from Amazon is the seamlessness of its various delivery systems—and the fact that the alternatives to Amazon (Apple for video, Kobo or Apple for ebooks) aren't exactly the kind of upstanding companies I want to throw my money at, either. (Read Alison's post about Powell's relationship with Kobo here.)

Thanks to Amazon's dominance, there aren't a lot of comparable, easy, and feel-good alternatives out there for many of the digital services a lot of us have become accustomed to*. But if the past few days have shown anything, it's that we need to start finding some.

*They're called "bookstores," Erik. —Eds
That's why I said "digital," Alison. —Eds.

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