Thanks to Janie Sheppard
See article and clips here http://nyti.ms/1pHKWpc
Stephen Colbert went after Amazon Wednesday night, literally giving the retailer the finger on his Comedy Central show. Twice.
“I’m not just mad at Amazon,” Mr. Colbert said. “I’m Mad Prime.”
He showed a sticker that says, “I didn’t buy it on Amazon,”downloadable at his site, and encouraged readers to put it on their books.
Mr. Colbert’s books are published by Hachette, and thus have fallen victim to Amazon’s well-publicized efforts to pressure the publisher by making its books difficult to come by. Amazon is negotiating with Hachette over e-book prices but Hachette is balking at the terms. The dispute has blossomed into a debate about the power of Amazon and the value of publishers.
After several weeks, Hachette sales are now dwindling on Amazon. Since Amazon is the biggest bookseller in the country, that is seriously affecting Hachette. On the other hand, the outrage seems to be mounting. While Amazon has its defenders — the novelist Barry Eisler wrote in The Guardian this week that the publishing industry has been run “for decades in a way that has benefited the few while stifling new opportunities for the many” – they are greatly outnumbered by its critics.
Mr. Colbert’s 2012 book, “America Again: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t,” is marked on Amazon as “usually ships in two to four weeks.” To further discourage sales, the book sells at full price instead of the usual discount. Third parties do offer it on Amazon for as little as a penny but Mr. Colbert does not approve, saying “publishers and authors get no cash from used book sales. Plus you don’t want them. Used books are the sluts of the literary world.”
He brought on a Hachette author, Sherman Alexie, who plugged the Hachette book, “California,” by Edan Lepucki. Mr. Colbert urged people to buy it at the independent Portland, Ore., store Powell’s, tweeting to his six million followers, “Together we can #CutDownTheAmazon.” Powell’s struggled to keep up with the orders as “California,” a first novel, immediately became its No. 1 best-seller.
Mr. Colbert’s show followed the denunciation of Amazon earlier this week by John Green, author of the immensely popular “The Fault In Our Stars.” “What’s ultimately at stake is whether Amazon is going to be able to freely and permanently bully publishers into eventual nonexistence,” said Mr. Green, who is not published by Hachette. He was on tour for the movie based on the novel, which is being released Friday.
Is it possible Amazon is beginning to crack under the pressure? The Huffington Post reported Wednesday that some Hachette books are now being restocked. It seems unlikely that any deal has been reached, the other obvious explanation.
An Amazon spokesman declined to comment Wednesday night.