Is Amazon a Friend to Readers (and Writers)?

I thought I'd share this as a frequent topic on these forums is the question of self-publication.  Since amazon can be a very large part of a self-published author's publication plan, I found this debate interesting.

The debate was held on NPR's Intelligence Squared, which does a very good job of presenting both sides of an issue.  While I won't discuss the podcast for fear of presenting a bias, the discussion does broach on a number of topics that I found incredibly enlightening: whether e-books promote quantity over quality, how self-publishing affects both the reader and the writer, and the concept of Amazon's influence over book promotion are just a few of the topics broached.

I encourage anyone thinking about self-publishing to listen:

Intelligence Squared: Amazon is the Reader's Friend 

Views: 29

Comment by Hugh Ashton on March 3, 2015 at 6:00pm

Just out of interest, I discovered some interesting things on Amazon today regarding pricing. My findings are here: Some things you won’t believe about one of the world’s largest IT c...

I'll be interested to hear what others have to say about this.

Comment by Sean P. Burnside on March 7, 2015 at 2:02pm

Incredibly interesting and disturbing information there.  The primary appeals of Amazon is that it is accessible for the self-publishing author.  Every cent counts for the independent writer and if Amazon is not guaranteeing that you are receiving correct compensation for your works, then they are ultimately doing the reader a disservice.  Penniless poets do not pen prose.

Comment by Hugh Ashton on March 7, 2015 at 11:44pm

Amazon is a very opaque company in many ways. For example, do you know how many Kindles are out there? No? You're not alone. Amazon doesn't release that kind of information. I am not an expert at reading corporate balance sheets when it comes to companies of Amazon's size, but those who are experts find it very difficult to understand them. Their financials do make interesting reading, and more than one commentator has described Amazon as an enormous Ponzi scheme.

It does seem to me that Amazon is at the very least inefficient (I think that every supplier to Amazon has at least one horror story), and I hesitate to accuse them of outright dishonesty. But I think they make less of an effort to ensure accuracy when it comes to suppliers than they might.

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