I wanted to buy a book a few months ago for a relative who was hospitalized in a city about 40 miles north and who wasn’t a TV watcher. I figured I’d stop off at the mall or a shopping center as I drove up and pick up some books and magazines.
Except there were no bookstores. While I had been floating along, ordering books from Amazon because they were cheap or putting them on my Amazon wish list and waiting for the prices to come down, book shops all around me were going out of business. Instead of finding some cool books and artsy, interesting magazines, I had to stop at a grocery store to buy a lame edition of O Magazine by Oprah. I believe it went unread.
If you watch the Colbert Report, you know that the responsible thing to do right now is to boycott Amazon. The massive “Don’t Be Evil” online seller is engaged in a very evil battle with traditional publishers to control pricing and set off a dumbing down process that will likely promote self-publishing as an Amazon work-around.
The problem is that will eliminate copy editors (who keep the quality high), literary agents (who discover and cultivate great new writers), and in-depth and expensive research. In that world, only the most likely best-sellers will see daylight. Your reading choices will be either 50 Shades of Gray or The Hunger Games…or a copy of O Magazine.
When Pensito Review editor Buck Banks decided to epublish a collection of limericks he wrote during the 2012 election cycle, along with an original essay on the limerick form (which is fascinating, I must admit), he didn’t publish it on Amazon. Instead, Poetic Justice, Vol. 1, is available — free — from Smashwords.
Join the resistance. Don’t buy from Amazon until they come to an agreement with publishers that will allow the long tail of interests to flourish. It’s good for everybody.