There’s an excellent article in the combined Feb. 17 and 24 issues of THE NEW YORKER magazine, by George Packer, called “Cheap Words: Is Amazon’s Business Model Good for Books?”
After reading Packer’s article with increasing outrage and anger, I can answer that question in one word: No. By under-pricing both print and electronic books in order to drive “traffic” through their website, and otherwise monopolizing the bookselling business, Amazon is making it exceedingly difficult for serious publishers, writers, and booksellers, and therefore serious readers, to survive. (Of course, Amazon doesn’t usually refer to readers who shop at their online site as “readers.” In the Amazonian argot, readers are referred to – I kid you not – as consumers.”)
That’s why it’s so important for readers, writers, and booksellers everywhere to support brave, new publishing ventures like Green Writers Press, in Brattleboro, Vermont, which is committed to publishing serious fiction, non-fiction, and poetry with place-based or environmental themes. Using recycled paper and other environmentally friendly materials, Green Writers is publishing beautifully-made books by some of Vermont’s and America’s best writers. Please look for the just-published poetry anthology SO LITTLE TIME and, next month, acclaimed Vermont poet Leland Kinsey’s seventh collection, WINTER READY, as examples of what GWP is doing to keep both good literature and what’s left of the natural world around us alive and well, in Vermont and far beyond.
And by the way. If you have the slightest doubt concerning Amazon’s ethical bankruptcy, but don’t have time just now to read the entire George Packer article, please scan what he as to say about the working conditions at Amazon’s “fulfillment centers” (aka warehouses), on pp. 73-74 of the magazine. Where is Charles Dickens when we need him?