The Amazon/Hachette War

This is not about books.

This is about corporations. And power. And the rights of not only artists, but individuals.

There’s a fiction in America today that corporations are our friends. Amazon even pushes the paradigm by saying all its efforts are for us. Pitting writers against readers in a sideshow that deflects from the truth that this really only about money, Amazon’s bottom line.

Amazon wants to own everything. Is that a good thing?

We’ve been wrestling with this issue for years, but no one wants to take a stand. Because they love that Facebook is free, Twitter too. The goal is to be in an Apple commercial, get sponsored by Samsung or Red Bull. But do these companies now have so much power that they’re hurting rather than helping us?

The Internet shrinks the world down to a click. With every store right next to the other, only one survives. So Google owns search. Facebook is your digital home. And Amazon is where you buy…seemingly everything.

Is this good for us?

Don’t trust the writers, they’re myopic and know nothing about money.

And don’t trust Hachette, run so inefficiently that the writers make a pittance while the company thrives.

Trust your gut. Do you really want to live in a 1984 world where Big Brother controls everything?

That’s the humorous element in this story. Amazon trotted out George Orwell’s quotes, saying to beware of publishers colluding against paperbacks when he said just the opposite. Credit the “New York Times” for revealing this truth, check it out here:

Dispute Between Amazon and Hachette Takes an Orwellian Turn

But what is most fascinating is the nerds at Amazon could get it so wrong. Read Brad Stone’s “The Everything Store.” Amazon long ago fired experts, recommendations are made by algorithms, and the keepers of our culture know nothing about the liberal arts, and everything about money. Either they can’t read or they can’t research or both, and that’s a sorry state of affairs.

But the truth is most of the public can’t either. The great unwashed want to be on reality shows and most college students focus on practical efforts like business, and what gets squeezed is culture. Ever wonder why music is so repetitive and mediocre? Because it’s made by the lowest common denominator element, the best and the brightest are working at the bank.

Hachette does not have clean hands. But the writers are a pawn in this dispute, like the Ukrainians living on the Russian border. They’re getting hurt while powers are fighting about something else.

But now the writers are fighting back, by banding together and taking an ad in the aforementioned “New York Times” urging you to e-mail Jeff Bezos. That’s a waste of time, don’t bother, Jeff will be inundated with a zillion e-mails in defense of the writers, if you base your efforts on public e-mail campaigns or petitions, you’ll do the wrong thing. But the truth is the Amazon/Hachette war is now a matter of public debate.

And that’s what it is, a war. And it’s not about books. It’s about how much of our lives are we going to turn over to Amazon.

Come on, you like instant delivery, you like a trustworthy merchant, but do you like a company that can single-handedly set prices and determine availability?

Oh, shut up about physical books and bookstores. That’s in the rearview mirror, digital won, because it’s convenient and inherently cheaper. If you don’t know this, I feel sorry for you, because then you don’t get the bigger picture, which is…

When are we the people gonna stand up to corporations?

The Supreme Court says they’re people too. Not hard to believe when the Republicans started the Federalist Society to infiltrate the bench and when they got power nominated these pro-business judges.

But the Democrats don’t have clean hands either. Because politics is all about money, and people just haven’t got as much, not when corporations can donate as much as they want.

But we’re supposed to sit at home satiated because we have a cheap mobile phone and free Facebook.

They came for our privacy, and we coughed it up, not only willingly plugging our information into fields online, but not realizing everything we ever did has been codified and put up for sale online. Google yourself, they’ve got not only your age and address, but everywhere you’ve ever lived, and who you were married to, good luck getting a fresh start.

And now they want to “benevolently” control our purchases, never mind our thoughts.

Jeff Bezos will ignore incoming e-mails, but he can’t ignore the publicity. Because it makes Amazon look…evil.

And Amazon is. It undercuts/undersells competitors. It constantly goes into new territories, and if it were smart and priced the Fire phone at zero, it would have a new cadre of supporters mindlessly marching into its coffers.

Do you want one company delivering not only your books, but your television, both the set and the programming, determining what to feature?

Where is the individual in today’s society? Who is looking out for us? Who is making sure we don’t get screwed?

Nobody. That’s right, nobody. You’re on your own, baby. And if we don’t band together, we’re screwed.

We used to band together as political parties, but we lost control of those to the corporations.

We used to band together under artists who spoke the truth, but they too all aligned with the corporations, the only ones with deep pockets.

And we idiots are consumed with logos. Believing if we just drive the right car and wear the right clothes we’ll win, when the truth is we lost a long time ago.

It’s time for a revolution in America, at least online. If we don’t rein in the Internet behemoths, it’s game over. Forget Obama, the kings will be Zuckerberg and Bezos, if they aren’t already. The former determines what information we’ll be exposed to and the latter determines what items we will buy.

This makes the cable and media landscape look like small potatoes. This makes Rupert Murdoch look like a pawn. Because Murdoch doesn’t control ALL the news, nor ALL the programming. Sure, some cable companies have virtual monopolies on distribution, but no cable company covers the entire nation, never mind the entire world.

But Google and Facebook and Amazon do, or are close to it. And they’ve got no competitors. They’re only becoming more powerful.

And the government won’t stop them.

Only we can do it.

Jeff Bezos is just a person. The Orwell screw-up shows the people he employs have blind spots.

At least let us buy our books while you work it out with Hachette.

But you can’t watch the Dodgers if you’re not on Time Warner and if you’re published by Hachette it’s like you don’t exist on Amazon.

Who’s sticking up for the little guy? Who, in this case, is just about everyone?

Nobody.

Never forget that.

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  1. […] I’m sure some of you saw it. You probably have not seen what follows… the full letter from Amazon, which I received as a self-published author (One Way Out began as an Ebook.) I thought it would be of interest to some. Writer Bob Lefsetz also has an interesting take on the iuuse – check it out here. […]

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  3. […] The Amazon / Hachette War (Lefsetz) – ” This is not about books. This is about corporations. And power. And the rights of not only artists, but individuals. There’s a fiction in America today that corporations are our friends. Amazon even pushes the paradigm by saying all its efforts are for us. Pitting writers against readers in a sideshow that deflects from the truth that this really only about money, Amazon’s bottom line.” […]

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