Amazon, a Friendly Giant as Long as It’s Fed
Vincent Zandri hails from the future. He is a novelist from the day after tomorrow, when Amazon has remade the worlds of writing, printing, selling and reading books so thoroughly that there is hardly anything left besides Amazon.
Mr. Zandri, an author of mystery and suspense tales, is published by Thomas & Mercer. one of Amazon Publishing’s many book imprints. He is edited by Amazon editors and promoted by Amazon publicists to Amazon customers, nearly all of whom read his books in electronic form on Amazon’s e-readers, Amazon’s tablets and, soon, Amazon’s phones.
His novels are not sold in bookstores, and rarely found in public libraries. His reviews are written by Amazon readers on the Amazon website. “Has a little bit of something for everyone,” one enthusiast exclaimed. “Heavy machinery, love, humor and mystery.” And his latest prize was an award from Amazon.
It is the 21st-century equivalent of living in a company town, but Mr. Zandri, 50, is far from a downtrodden worker.
A few years ago
he was reduced to returning bottles and cans for grocery money. Now his Amazon earnings pay for lengthy stays in Italy and Paris, as well as expeditions to the real Amazon. “I go wherever I want, do whatever I want and live however I want,” he said recently at a bar in Mill Valley, Calif. a San Francisco suburb where he was relaxing after a jaunt to Nepal.
While Mr. Zandri celebrates Amazon as the best thing to happen to storytellers since the invention of movable type, many other writers are denouncing what they see as its bullying tendencies and an inclination toward monopoly.
From household names to deeply obscure scribblers, authors are inflamed this summer, perhaps more deeply divided than at any point in nearly a half-century. Back then, it was the question of being a hawk or dove on Vietnam. Now it is not a war but an Internet retailer and its unparalleled grip on the cultural machinery that is provoking fierce controversy.
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