The broken record of the publishing industry is playing the same old song: Amazon is evil and must be destroyed. At least, that’s the sentiment that came out of the first day conference of the London Book Fair. The digital publishing-themed pre-event got underway with an in-depth look at how Amazon continues to destroy basically the entire world.
This particular rendition of the song that has been playing since the rise of the Kindle e-reader included a sentiment that is far-too-prevalent in the industry: Amazon is horrible, but yes, as a matter of fact, I do sell my content on their site.
The particular hypocrite in question is UK author Anthony Horowitz, whose keynote address at the conference referred to Amazon as “evil bastards” before continuing by saying, “I loathe them.” Horowitz, the author of the Alex Rider series and a number of other titles, currently has several bestselling titles listed on the site, and his own Amazon author page offers a very tongue-in-cheek peek into what is possibly one of the worst childhoods in the history of children; if his candid profile is any indication, it’s possible that Horowitz’s opening remarks were intended to make light of the fact that these conference have an agenda against the online retailer.
The worst thing about this keynote is not the blatant hypocrisy or the name-calling, it’s the fact that this is not a new revelation. Countless conferences around the world continue to open and close with lengthy boring treatises on what Amazon has done to destroy publishing, bookselling, reading, and even democracy, but there’s nothing new to be said. Instead of coming up with viable alternatives or solutions to the crisis-level loss of bookstores and libraries, the same talking heads continue to spout the same paranoia, all while listing their books with Amazon.
Horowitz did have an admonishment for the assembled audience: if they want to continue to be profitable, they will have to embrace digital publishing and all that goes with it. The only way to continue to have a market is to grow one through avid readership, something that cannot happen if book access is denied.