The Amazon Transformation

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

George Packer, staff writer for The New Yorker, looks at how Amazon has transformed the publishing industry and is poised to transform Hollywood, too. His article "Cheap Words," appears in the February 17 & 24 issue of The New Yorker.


George Packer
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Comments [14]

Pennywhistler from Trenton

@ resident alien from Williamsburg

Amazon has been collecting state and local taxes for a long time now.

Do try to say awake.

Feb. 21 2014 01:09 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Leonard, WNYC isn't re-airing Brian's show after midnight. It goes straight to the BBC. You can play it back online, but it's not available on the radio.

Feb. 19 2014 01:08 PM
Alan from New York is a search engine for books--new and used--that usually finds books at lower prices than Amazon's.

Feb. 19 2014 12:48 PM
Michael D. D. White from Brooklyn Heights

New York Times last Thursday- “If you own a Nook, the fate of your books may now be up in the air.”

How ephemeral! One technology driven out by . . . Amazon's.

Feb. 19 2014 12:43 PM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

These Seattle tech companies are great at P.R. and image building. I.e., branding.

They portray an enlightened, liberal, hip, with-it image, and they know the right words to say, to attach to their brands, so that people in the millions will want to self-identify with the brands... cult-like.

Remember the iconic "1984" ad at the SuperBowl by Apple? The female Thor-like woman throwing her Thor's hammer through the picture tube with Big Brother's image on it, destroying it.

How ironic. Apple, Google, Amazon, et al turned out to be the true big brothers, and nobody even elected them (except with our wallets) and they can't be voted out of office (again, except with our wallets.)

The guest has revealed what they are REALLY about. Worse in some ways than any previous businesses. We are selling our souls for the fetishes they provide.

But most of us don't want to hear it, because it would inconvenience our lifestyles.

Feb. 19 2014 12:42 PM
Maria from UWS

Bezos and Gates are not "liberals," they are "neo-liberals." Huge difference -- Google it!

Feb. 19 2014 12:38 PM
RUCB_Alum from Central New Jersey

Changing publishing? BFD. I do care that so many of there 'publications' are just rip-offs. Sound alikes that fool people into buying junk.

I care far more about how Amazon is draining the sales tax revenue from the several states! Lack of nexus is STARVING the states for the revenues they need to keep things working properly. We need an national VAT on Internet sales *yesterday*! When will the Congress get its thumb out of its arse, stop taking meaningless votes to repeal Obamacare - anything they do will just be vetoed - and get to work on a fair tax plan for Internet sales!

Feb. 19 2014 12:35 PM
resident alien from Williamsburg

Let your guest comment on:

1. the hundreds of millions $$$ of indirect subsidies that amazon (like all online vendors) received by not having to collect sales tax on all states (minus 1) for over 10 years!

2. the "individual pricing" game that amazon plays...

Feb. 19 2014 12:31 PM
resident alien from Williamsburg

Let your guest comment on:

1. the hundreds of millions $$$ of indirect subsidies that amazon (like all online vendors) received by not having to collect sales tax on all states (minus 1) for over 10 years!

2. the "individual pricing" game that amazon plays...

Feb. 19 2014 12:30 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Amazon thinks (or says it thinks) unions are bad for customers/customers don't like them? 1 more reason I won't buy from them. Mr. Packer says they regard their customers as gods, but it seems to me they're telling their "gods" what they want rather than asking them.

Feb. 19 2014 12:30 PM

It seems more likely that he bought the Post for the same reason Monsanto used to buy ads on the Sunday Shows. It's a way to influence the influencers.

A bigger collection of lackeys for the PTB would be hard to find, even in the generally terrible corporate media.

Feb. 19 2014 12:24 PM
Michael D. D. White from Brooklyn Heights

The New Yorker hasn’t yet covered the sell-off New York City’s libraries with the elimination of books from the libraries (New York editor David Remnick is on the board of the NYPL selling and shrinking libraries and getting rid of books), BUT . ..

. . . the sell-off and shrinkage of libraries is ALSO affecting the book industry. . .

Partly because of some aspects of the Amazon model that are being borrowed:

* With “Book-ops” the idea is that books won’t be at the libraries anymore- You will have to order them from off-site locations. (Sort of like how you order and wait for books from Amazon.)

* This means that FEWER books will be bought for the same population of library users. (And may discourage library users in the process.)

* This also means that purchasing books will be centrally handled and the library trustees were told that means lower book prices, which they were told the struggling book publishers won’t like.

For more information go to Citizens Defending Libraries.

Feb. 19 2014 12:22 PM
ben from nyc

Any information on Amazon's "upcoming" game console? I heard they were buying up developers for some first party might alongside their anticipated hardware...

Feb. 19 2014 12:15 PM
Leeam from Queens

I was surprised Packer didn't talk about the fact that due to data from the Kindle, some populist writers have said that it would shape and change what they actually write. I wonder why this angle wasn't mentioned in the article?

Feb. 19 2014 12:11 PM

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