To be or not to be…pro-Amazon?

David Gaughran is proving himself to be one of the most intelligent independent commentators in contemporary publishing. In a razor sharp post on media bias in the coverage of Amazon, he dissects the overwhelmingly anti-Amazon stance reflected in the media. It’ s a post worth reading in full, including a very valuable summary of why a neutral standpoint on the big A is entirely credible.

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For the record, I’m neither pro-Amazon or anti-Amazon. I have a reasonably positive disposition towards them as a customer and as a supplier because its actions have tended to be pro-reader e.g. reducing prices and pro-author e.g. paying 70%, creating a more level playing field than other retailers.But I also know that Amazon is a business and a very large corporation and will ultimately only look out for itself – like all corporations do, which is their fiduciary duty to their shareholders. I have had no problem criticizing Amazon in the past when I felt it deserved it e.g. the dumb, regressive Whispernet Surcharge or the worrying precedent of non-fixed payments in KDP Select.So I don’t blindly “trust” Amazon whatever that means. I adopt the appropriate level of skepticism to all companies in the fetid swamp that is publishing and, increasingly, to news reports on the business too.

via Media Bias and Amazon | David Gaughran.

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Much if not all of the negativity towards Amazon is rooted in emotion. Bottom line, many people in publishing have or are about to lose their jobs because of Amazon. That’s exactly the kind of fearful, pressured situation that leads people to respond on the basis of uncontrolled emotion.

But Amazon isn’t destroying the world, or even publishing. In actual fact, it has put in to place an entire, much more efficient publishing infrastructure that publishers *should* have put in place themselves a decade ago. And now amazon is reaping the rewards. And, as the self-publishing revolution continues, so in fact are authors.

Change sometimes looks like destruction. The trick is nt to react from emotion, and to see what is being created in place of the things that have been destroyed.

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France bails out its publishing monopoly

And thinking a little more about anti-Amazon bias in reporting. Here Melville House comments on the new French “anti-Amazon” law.

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The new law forbids the combination of free shipping and a 5% discount on online book sales, meaning that sites like Amazon cannot offer consumers free delivery as a way to undercut independent bookshops, and it drastically curtails the kind of discount packages Amazon can attempt. French Minister of Culture Aurélie Filippetti a.k.a queen of our hearts and minds has been fighting for these changes ever since she called Amazon the “destroyer of bookshops” and announced a €9m plan to support independent bookshops.

This new law is seen as a much-needed update to the 1981 Lang law which established a “single book price” to prohibit deep discounting of books. Colette Mélot a senator member of the UMP, the party which has been pushing for the law, said:

via France passes Anti-Amazon Law » MobyLives.

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What hasn’t been said here? Oh yes, that these laws keep book prices high. And legislate against the competition trying to lower the prices. Outcome? Books remain outside the financial reach of many people in France. For a socialist government this is a remarkably elitist act. And of course the industry as a whole remains largely accessible only to the upper-middle classes. No Kindle self-publishing revolution for the French. Or likely a slower one. Legislation only does so much to stop progress.

Next time you ask for the UK government to act against Amazon, ask also what it is you’re asking for. The preservation of an industry? Or the perpetuation of a professional monopoly?

Women Are Destroying Science Fiction! (That’s OK; They Created It)

What what makes, one may also destroy. Women writers, having created science fiction in works like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, are now destroying it. NPR books picks up this idea today. Of course, science fiction isn’t being destroyed. It’s changing, and the new space being claimed by diverse voices in the genre is the energy changing it.

Warning: you don’t want to read the comments!

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If your notion of SF is confined to the vision brought forth by the likes of Asimov, Heinlein, Herbert, Sturgeon and Clarke all fine writers, mind, then the stories within these pages may well seem like destruction. As will such alarming developments as women sweeping the fiction categories of the Nebula Awards. And the way that speakers at feminist SF conventions characterize science fiction as an “exploration of the future and myth and history” and call for more stories that include “the voices, experiences, subjectivities and realities of many.”

So are women destroying science fiction? Yes. Women created it, so its only fair. Most would cite Frankenstein author Mary Shelley here, but others point out that Margaret Cavendish preceded her. In destroying it, women are creating a larger space for themselves within science fiction; one filled with their voices, dreams, experiences and realities.

via Review: Women Destroy Science Fiction! : NPR.