Saturday, May 9, 2009

Beat a Dead Horse? Yes, I Think I Will

Based on the underwhelming response to my post (which I posted to author groups and authors that I know), not too many people care about one entity owning 47% of the book selling market and having a stealth policy on censorship.

And lest you STILL doubt that this isn't some sort of covert policy on amazon's part, an author that I know who wrote a seminal book on gender identity a number of years ago did have her book restored to its previous sales stats and search functions. However, all the reader reviews that she had garnered over the years? Nope. Not restored. So someone who happens upon her book and sees that it's been out ten years or more but only has ONE comment will think, gee, this book must be made of shit because it's been on the market for years and only has one comment. And please do NOT tell me that they can't restore the comments. They have chosen not to.

Stealth censorship. I don't think it can be any plainer.

Another side to the amazon quagmire (I see that Mr. Bezos had no problem using precious ad space to advertise the new Kindle, but then the key word here is advertising as opposed to apologizing, I suppose) is the debut of the larger Kindle.

I can see the benefits of an electronic reader. I think it could keep the less well-known reader competitive (cough, cough). Or at least have a continuing marketplace. But for me the key issue here is that the larger Kindle will, hopefully, keep newspapers alive.

My paper, the S. F. Chronicle (by no means the best paper in the U.S., but I'm fond of it), has had two rounds of massive layouts. One just occurred within the last week and it was devastating. Journalists that I've been reading for years are now gone: their byline cut. And yes, I understand the economics of this, but I consider a newspaper seminal. Not that they are immune to parent company forces, but it seems to me that the newspaper (unlike the television media--can you say Fox news) still has a foothold on relatively unbiased reporting. Or at least, if they have a bias, the desire to get out the story often trumps a newspaper's inherent bias. With television or blog culture, you can just make shit up and most of the time you're not even called on it. Certainly, that's been true of much of the media for the last eight years. Which was why it was so nice to see The National Review's Rosen get his nuts roasted over the coals for his disgusting hit piece piece on Sotomayor. Who hasn't even been NOMINATED yet. I don't know how anyone can attack blog culture (who immediately called him on the carpet for his piece) as being nothing but opinion, when you have an article whose premise is entirely predicated on anonymous sources.

So, yes, moral dilemma. With one hand I give amazon a high five, hoping that the larger Kindle will be a rousing success and save the newspaper biz. And with my other hand I wave bye-bye.


veganrampage2 said...

I admire you robustly. I am not usually a fan of our species, because as you said, not too many people seem to care about anything unless it directly affects them. In their stupidity they do not realize that all civil rights issues do affect them, directly and indirectly. Of course, if people ever did heave their heads out of there asses, we would soon see the end of our violent, insane patriarchy. Not counting on it. Vegan hugs to you. And to hell with Amazon until they make good, which looks like never.

Elizabeth said...

Yay for Claire in high dudgeon! Always one of the most satisfying things ever!

But, oh, the sad state of the book and newspaper biz.... Obviously the print media have to change in response to the new technologies, but it's also important for us to consume responsibly. With all the information and misinformation out there, I find it difficult to know what truly are the responsible choices. But I'll tell you one thing, I'm buying a lot more new books from bookstores these days, just to try and keep publishing as we know it alive!