Tag Archives: Amazon

You Oughta Read This


Chris Jackson co-founded the bookstore McNally Jackson, edited Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and is making the stupidly white world of literary publishing a little more diverse: “The lens that we have is a way in which we can claim the entire world.”

How an old Philip Roth remark sort of predicted Donald Trump: “The American writer in the middle of the twentieth century has his hands full trying to understand, describe, and then make credible much of American reality.”

And speaking of the absurdity of American reality: “Amazon is planning to open hundreds of physical bookstores.”

Nathan Heller on airplanes: “Flight is the best metaphor for writing that I know.”

Saudi Arabia almost executes a poet: “The pen has yet to be proven mightier than the sword.”

Photo of Chris Jackson by Shaniqwa Jarvis for the New York Times


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You have to admire one thing about James Franco’s new book, which comes out today: It has a certain thematic unity. Franco is a hack-of-all trades pretending to be a writer. Amazon is a world-destroying monopoly pretending to be Franco’s publisher. And the story in question, Actors Anonymous, is all about faking it. I shit you not, an entire section of Actors Anonymous is printed in color-coded Comic Sans. So it’s a big phony, but at least they’re owning it?

– Brian Hurley

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Fiction Advocate of the Day

FA Science Mag Cover

It’s science — the magazine, and the method.

Emanuele Castano and David Comer Kidd from the New School for Social Research published a study in this month’s Science magazine showing the emotional-intuitive benefits of reading literary fiction. According to the New York Times, the study revealed that:

after reading literary fiction, as opposed to popular fiction or serious nonfiction, people performed better on tests measuring empathy, social perception and emotional intelligence — skills that come in especially handy when you are trying to read someone’s body language or gauge what they might be thinking.

In other words, science has proven David Foster Wallace’s theory that “Fiction’s about what it is to be a fucking human being.” Continue reading

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Fiction Opponent and Advocate of the Day


Opponent: Today’s copyright laws, changing technology, market pressures and, as usual, Amazon.

Advocate: Scott Turow, who explains in the New York Times this morning how today’s copyright laws, changing technology, market pressures and, as usual, Amazon, are creating huge disincentives for novelist to actually write novels for a living.

…the global electronic marketplace is rapidly depleting authors’ income streams. It seems almost every player — publishers, search engines, libraries, pirates and even some scholars — is vying for position at authors’ expense.

This is not a matter of greed and avarice; as Turow points out, authors have been generally accepting, and usually outright supportive of, libraries that give their work away for free — not to mention second-hand bookstores. Anyone who wants to write books for a living knows better than to entertain champagne wishes or caviar dreams. But current trends are steadily taking authors into something more like a nightmare. For example, the way search engines enable easy piracy: Continue reading

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Assent to the Dissent of the Day

A reader of Andrew Sullivan’s “The Dish” urges Sullivan to dump Amazon and link to indie bookstores like the one where s/he works:

As the fine arts book buyer and assistant manager for an independent bookstore [seen above] in your newly-adopted city, I am disheartened to learn that you’re continuing to make affiliate revenue from Amazon, a corporation hell-bent on destroying print culture and, along with it, my job. From their loss-leading book pricing to their vile price-check app, Amazon has made itself the scourge of small booksellers everywhere.


It’s wonderful that you provide healthcare for your interns, but I had hoped the revenue from subscriptions would have covered this. Maybe I’m overstepping my bounds, but I’d love to see you link to indie bookstores like Strand, McNally Jackson, or Community Bookstore in the future.

This is the best idea I’ve heard all day, followed closely by my own idea to visit the Rizzoli bookstore ASAP. For the record, Fiction Advocate is part of the Powell’s Partner Program.

– Michael Moats

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Polling the Reads

I don’t normally like much of anything Amazon does, but this map of the sales of “red” and “blue” non-fiction books is cool. Unfortunately, it’s also kind of sad. And also kind of terrifying to see Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged as the top selling “red” book in Washington, DC.

Buyers of “blue” books seem to like history, hate racism and partisanship, and have a serious beef with the concept of God. Buyers of the “red” books either really hate Barack Obama and/or really like buying books where the author is pictured on the cover with crossed arms.

George W. Bush is the only “author” to show up on both sides, with Decision Points at numbers 41 on red and 80 on the blue list.  Less strange but still an odd fit is Christopher Hitchens’ Arguably, which is the 89th most purchased “red” book.

All in all, I guess this is one of those times when you say, “At least people are reading.”

– Michael Moats

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