Friday, January 27, 2012

Amazon *

So. I've had this thought for a long time, but I don't think anyone can answer the question:
How much influence do book sales on have on (the) The New York Times Best Seller list?
Is there a list of titles whose majority sales were from Amazon that made the NYT list (based on those sales)?

Librarians already know about the influence of Amazon because we deal with library patrons daily who want us to buy some book they saw on Amazon that had "really excellent reviews" from some unknown friends of the author. There has been lots of crap that got bumped on Amazon that made it onto our library shelves. Much of complete and total shit.

So now that Amazon will have its own publishing house (and for tax purposes, will have its offices only in "the cloud," or Belize), to what degree should we ignore sales from those Amazon authors? For example, Penny Marshall is reportedly writing a book for Amazon, and on any other day since 1993, not one person would care. But give Amazon's muscle in the retail world, Penny will sell tons of copies of her milk-and-Pepsi tell-all.

Should publishers be allowed to decide which books become bestsellers? Hell Yes, you might say if you ran Random House, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Penguin, Hachette, and Macmillan.

But they don't. They promote the books all they can, but they don't own the book stores. Not until now.

If Amazon is both the publisher and the seller, then what happens when they promote a book? It sells. Because everyone who visits Amazon is going to see that book on the front page, and in the sidebars and in the pop-ups. And they will buy.

So now Amazon publishes the book that becomes the bestseller that makes the Times list that influences what libraries buy. And what every other book retailer in the world sells. Can you say, MONOPOLY?

The first title that Amazon publishes that becomes a Times bestseller should bring a wave of lawsuits. Or at the very least, should require an asterisk next to each title that makes the list, meaning, yes, this book sold well, but not in a way that's ethical.

At some point, will the list become Amazon's Best Seller List at The New York Times? If the Times could be so lucky.

[source for Penny Marshall info, Amazon's Hit Man]

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