New York-based debating circle with Intelligence Squared U.S. (IQ2US), bringing you “Oxford-style debates live from New York City,” has put up an alert for a soporific and unprovocative little debate to open 2015, on the topic of: “Amazon Is The Reader’s Friend.” That ought to elicit absolutely no controversy or attention whatsoever …

The IQ2 introduction to the proposition reads:

In late 2014, Amazon and the publishing house Hachette settled a months-long dispute over who should set the price for e-books. In Amazon’s view, lower prices mean more sales and more readers, and that benefits everyone. But for publishers, the price of an e-book must reflect the investment made, from the author’s advance to a book’s production. The conflict, resolved for now, has only raised more questions about the value of books, Amazon’s business practices, and the role of publishers. Is book publishing an oligopoly, a dinosaur in need of disruption? Is Amazon, which accounts for 41% of all new book and 67% of all e-book sales, a monopoly? Who is doing right by readers and the future of books?

The debate will convene on January 15th at 6:45PM New York time at the Kaufman Center, 129 West 67th Street. Tickets are on sale and the debate will also be streamed live. For the proposition, we have Joe Konrath and Matthew Yglesias, the Executive Editor of Vox. Appearing Against will be Franklin Foer, former editor of The New Republic, and attorney and author Scott Turow. The moderator will be John Donvan, author and ABC News correspondent. A lineup like that ought to guarantee an experience only marginally less sedative than one of Robert Rich’s sleep concerts.

According to its website, “based on the highly successful debate program in London, Intelligence Squared, Intelligence Squared U.S. has presented nearly 100 debates on a wide range of provocative and timely topics.” Personally, as a Cambridge University alum, I’ve seen most of my Oxford-style debates outside Oxford itself, but the format does provide opportunities for some forceful commenting. And of course, New York City, “the hub of book publishing” (if you’re one of the Big Five, at least), is exactly the right venue for such a discussion. Fire up your streaming clients, everyone …


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