How Amazon Killed the Book Business

by | Feb 21, 2022 | Articles | 1 comment

Okay, it’s Monday, and it’s Presidents’ Day, which really means it’s Washington’s birthday. Actually, he was born on February 22nd, but whatever.

Last week was too busy to attend to this blog, and so is this week, holiday notwithstanding. So I’ll be the first to admit that today’s post is something of a placeholder. But it’s also something I’ve thought about often, and debated internally. Did Amazon kill the book business? Or did the big publishers themselves?

 

Here Come the Links

The debate out in the ether has gone on for years now. Here’s an article from Vox all the way back in 2014, making the case that Amazon was actually doing authors (and the whole world!) a favor by crushing the big publishers. Interesting.

A few short years later in 2017, and The New York Times posted an article called “Bookstore Chains, Long in Decline, Are Undergoing a Final Shakeout.” (If you don’t subscribe to the Times, but haven’t read an article for free there lately, you can view this without subscribing.) The piece details the decline of Borders and, to a lesser degree, Barnes & Noble, with a healthy dose of Amazon’s story.

Lastly, here’s an interesting opinion piece from author Nicholas Rossi entitled “How Amazon Destroyed Publishing. Or Did It?” I like this one because, while it details how top publishers shot themselves in the foot again and again, it also notes how Amazon systematically dismantled its own author-friendly features one after another.

 

My Opinion Only

While I have plenty to say about Amazon, today’s not the day for all of it; too much on this author’s plate. Suffice to say I have mixed feelings: I went wide when I published, as I didn’t want to be an “Amazon-only” author, but almost no one ever buys my books from anywhere other than Amazon.

In the words of the great John Peel, “Make what you will of that.”

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