I’ve piled up four links in short order that detail some of the problems with Amazon, and why, despite an increasing insistence in their PR that they’re your ally, they’re on the side of the consumer, they’re your friend against those meanie-face businesses like publishers . . . they are not the good guy. At best, they are a guy, who will sometimes help you and sometimes screw you over. (The problem is, a lot of the “help” is of the sort that evaporates as soon as they’re in a position to screw you over.)
So, the links:
Next Borderlands Books (San Francisco indie bookstore), on their sketchy business behavior. (Scroll down to “From the Office” to find the relevant part.)
And then, Anand Giridharadas in the NYT, on the fraying of decency, and what Amazon does to achieve such low prices and fast shipping.
Finally, just as a chaser, the privacy issues with the new Kindle Fire.
I won’t deny that Amazon is useful. I still order things from them occasionally. But I’ve taken my book business elsewhere whenever possible — Powell’s, IndieBound, and local stores — and I am not looking forward to the Brave New World in which everything is published through Amazon, for reading on an Amazon device, so that Amazon knows everything I do, with Amazon deciding how much I pay for that material or get paid when people buy what I wrote, because they’ve ground all their competitors out of existence.
It’s like a hybrid of 1984 and Snow Crash. Stephenson was almost right about corporations ruling the future; his error was in using the plural.