Monday, September 12, 2016

The Amazon Kindle Is Not Your Savior

When Amazon opened up their Kindle Direct Publishing platform, they opened the door to millions of writers to finally sell their books on the open market. No longer would they be at the mercy of the Big 5 New York publishers. Now they could write whatever they wished, with no genre or subject matter off limits.

At the moment, Amazon is in a position where they allow pretty much any book to be sold on their service, with the possible exception of those breaking US law. But the problem is, this will likely change the moment that it no longer becomes the most viable business model for them. All it will take is for a group of SJWs bloggers to start a witch hunt against Amazon for being complicit in the sale of books with “problematic” content that is “harmful” to whatever minority group they're championing that day of the week.

That’s not to say that I think we should return to the impossible task of trying to get published by one of the Big 5 New York publishers. The research we’ve done into their staff has shown that they’re fairly incompetent at their jobs, and primarily interested in publishing memoirs by famous people you’ve never heard of. But we need to have a plan for how we’re still going to stay in the business of writing books when Amazon turns against us.

This is one reason why I still really appreciate print books. Even ignoring simple aesthetic appreciation for printed words on a page, or the rumors of NSA spyware on e-reader devices, physical books have one advantage that digital ones do not. No one can take away your physical books, short of breaking into your home, stealing them, and setting them on fire in the street. Also, the burning of printed literature has been stigmatized in ways which the destruction of digital words has not. If Amazon were to deny the sale of certain books on their platform, there would still be many who insist that such an act is not censorship, that Amazon has every right to refuse certain authors from selling on their platform.

While I wouldn’t agree with the decision to deny the sale of certain books, I wouldn’t want them, as a business, to be forced to sell books which they don’t want to, just like how I also wouldn’t want bakers to be forced to sell cakes which they didn’t want to sell. The issue is that Amazon has, intentionally or not, gotten a big monopoly on the book publishing world. So while one could argue that Amazon deciding not to sell a particular book is not censorship, the negative sales impact of being denied entry onto their platform would still have as strong of an effect.

Besides, I do not want to live in a world in which Amazon deciding not to sell a book can be called censorship in the first place.

2 comments:

  1. Physical books can also suvive an EMP blast.

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    Replies
    1. Paper books also last much longer than the life of a HDD.

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