Just a quick post to direct your attention to an article by David Streitfeld, published on Friday, July 5th in the physical edition of the New York Times (and published online a day earlier). It concerns Amazon.com’s prices, specifically with respect to independent and university press books.
I’m calling attention to the piece for several reasons. First, it raises important questions about Amazon’s role as a cultural intermediary in the wake of Borders’ demise, Barnes & Noble’s slide, and the ongoing shakeout of independent bookstores. Second, I happen to be quoted in the story. Here’s what I had to say, echoing some of my points in Chapters 2 and 3 of Late Age, in addition to the Preface to the paperback edition:
“Amazon is doing something vitally important for book culture by making books readily available in places they might not otherwise exist,” said Ted Striphas, an associate professor at Indiana University Bloomington. “But culture is best when it is robust and decentralized, not when there is a single authority that controls the bulk of every transaction.”
When Mr. Striphas’s book, “The Late Age of Print: Everyday Book Culture from Consumerism to Control,” first appeared in paperback in 2011, Amazon sold it for $17.50, the author said. Now it is $19.
“There’s not much competition to sell my book,” Mr. Striphas said. “The conspiracy theorist would say Amazon understands this.”
Needless to say, the rest of the piece is worth the read, too . My thanks to David for giving me the opportunity to speak to this important issue.