Another Amazon-Hachette dispute trope that needs demolishing

picard-face-palmAmong the raging hordes who set aside all facts and reason to bash Amazon in what I can only guess is a spooked panic about the retailer’s size (something that concerns me, too, but not to the point of losing my mind) there is a prevalent slander, which was recently repeated by Cosmin Gheorghe at the ever-flowing spring of spin that is the Huffington Post:

Amazon considers books a commodity, like cars or computers: an object that has no other inherent value, but only the value dictated by how often it is demanded or offered by the majority of us, i.e., the market.

This statement is moronic on two fronts.

First of all, the idea that cars or computers have no other inherent value reveals an incredible prejudice against car and computer enthusiasts. People don’t sleep outside the Apple store before a big product release because the latest iWhatever has no inherent value other than as a commodity. And, try telling an automobile enthusiast (or really, anybody who has ever bought a car) that a vehicle is nothing more than a product that gets you from point A to point B. Cars and computers have style, mood, atmosphere. They reflect the personality of the owner and enhance their lives in very specific ways depending on the model, just as books reflect the personality of the reader and enhance their lives in very specific ways depending on the genre and book.

So, the contrast is both inept and insulting. There are people who value cars and computers just as much as we book-lovers value books.

Secondly, the fantasy that traditional publishers treat books as more than a commodity is simply childish. Businesses are businesses, and Hachette is not a book club. It’s a book seller. Their dispute with Amazon is, at base, about profit, about books as a commodity, and the competing models of maximizing profit the two sides have.

So, can the Amazon-bashers please return to the land of facts and reason, and stop insulting everyone in their inane attempts to slam Amazon at every turn? It’s embarrassingly clumsy and transparent.

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