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Amazon Publishing Hysteria: Fact or Fiction?

Journalists love to write about how Amazon Publishing will destroy the book business, but a Nation story about “The Amazon Effect” offered a more measured perspective.

In the essay, Yale University Press executive editor-at-large Steve Wasserman looked at the ways Amazon has already succeeded, as well as the places where it has yet to prove itself. The essay noted some publishers “professed little anxiety” about the bookseller’s publishing arm, headed by Larry Kirshbaum. Check it out:

It remains to be seen, however, whether spending a reported $800,000 to acquire Penny Marshall’s Hollywood memoirs is ultimately profitable; a number of the publishers I spoke with thought not and professed little anxiety at Amazon’s big-foot approach. They are not inclined to join the hysteria that largely greeted Kirshbaum’s defection, feeling that a recent Bloomberg Businessweek cover story depicting a book enveloped by flames had exaggerated by several orders of magnitude the actual threat posed by Amazon’s new venture. If Amazon wants to burn the book business, as the magazine’s headline blared, publishing books the old-fashioned way struck them as a peculiar way of going about it. Was there really a “secret plot to destroy literature,” as the magazine alleged? It seemed far-fetched, to say the least.

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