Amazon/Hachette: Colbert, the ABA, Amazon’s reputation, and Hachette layoffs
June 6, 2014 | 6:07 pm
Stephen Colbert has apparently been taken in by the Hachette hype; he did a couple of segments on his show lambasting Amazon for making it harder for people to buy his books, including an interview with author Sherman Alexie. J.A. Konrath was not amused, firing back with a post intended to be humorous but that really just came off as ranty. (It’s a lot harder to be funny when you can’t mug for the camera.)
Of course, it’s worth noting that Colbert’s persona on his show is a put-on, a strawman send-up of the far right, so as such the ersatz Colbert’s ego would clearly be engaged in anything that prevented his books from reaching a wider audience. It’s unclear what the real Colbert believes.
But perhaps even more interesting is a related story that Colbert has made arrangements with Powell’s to sell copies of debut novelist Edan Lupucki’s book California (another Hachette title) via his web site. Powell’s reports it’s now the store’s bestselling preorder. Does this, as Salon suggests, make Colbert the new “Oprah”?
A few days ago I wondered why the ABA didn’t sue Amazon the way it sued Barnes & Noble and Borders in the ‘90s. It turns out the ABA is now thanking Amazon, and saying “the indies will take it from here,” as part of a campaign noting that “independent bookstores sell books from all publishers. Always.” (Unless, of course, it’s an Amazon-published imprint such as Thomas and Mercer. The ABA CEO tried to weasel out of that by explaining no brick-and-mortar store has the space to carry everything. Yeah, I’m sure that’s why they don’t do it.)
Not that all this Amazon bashing seems to be affecting Amazon’s reputation among consumers. YouGov Brand Index reports that Amazon’s consumer perception is holding pretty steady. There are fluctuations up and down, but it’s staying within the same range it was before the Hachette story broke. Looks like most consumers are still willing to believe good things of the Everything Store so far. (Found via The Digital Reader.)
Meanwhile, Hachette has had to lay off 28 people, approximately 3% of its workforce. Hachette spun the layoff as being “part of a cost-savings initiative that will improve our company’s resilience to a changing marketplace and position HBG for further growth,” and insisted that it was unrelated to the current spat with Amazon. Funny when you consider that, when the Orbit Hugo voter packet thing came out, Charlie Stross cited the example of Hachette not laying off anyone during the 2008 recession when everyone else was. (Found via The Passive Voice.)