Last week was a tipping point in consumer antipathy against Amazon, after it came out that the super mega-globo store was responding to a fight over how profits are split by delaying the shipment of books, disabling pre-orders, and removing the one-click purchase option for publisher Hachette. Everyone has come out swinging against Amazon, including our pals at On the Media. But no one has been hitting harder than Stephen Colbert.
Colbert, whose books are published by Hachette, began his show last night, with his usual in-character monologue about his plan to deliver Amazon two extended middle fingers. You know, typical funny colbert stuff.
However, he betrayed his actual opinion on the ordeal when he invited on Sherman Alexie, another Hachette author, and listened earnestly as Alexie decried Amazon's monopoly of the book market, saying we should root neither for Amazon nor Hachette but for the authors. Toward the end of the interview, Alexie and colbert suggested a Hachette book called California by Edan Lepuckie, asking viewers to go to Colbert's website, which will be selling the books through a deal with independent Portland book store chain Powell's. He also recommended that people download stickers he has available on his site that say "I didn't buy this book on Amazon," that you can slap on any title you're reading. "We're gonna prove," said Colbert, "that I can sell more books than Amazon!"
Colbert's gambit seems to have worked, according to Salon's Neil Drumming:
Powell’s reports that the post-apocalyptic novel is now its bestselling book in terms of pre-sales. There is no way to order “California” from Amazon, though the glowing reviews of the novel remain on the site. By all accounts, it’s a worthwhile read in need of a little attention, and that attention seems to have come in a big way.
At some point there will likely be a detente between Hachette and Amazon. Judging by all the bad press and customer outrage amazon has been receiving, it will likely be a concession to Hachette on profits. But this exercise is a nice reminder that while Netflix is currently fighting with ISPs to keep their flow of data as fast as possible for consumers without throttling, Amazon is actually fighting to make it less convenient to get products you order from it. And it is also a reminder that there are alternatives.