Everything you never wanted to know about Amazon…

Everything you never wanted to know about Amazon…


norman lebrecht

November 17, 2013

…. is in OLM’s review of the new Jeff Bezos biography. I dislike everything about Amazon, starting with its immoderation and ending with its dumpbins of good books at penny prices. It renders every writer altogether disposable.  Read here.

It’s especially depressing on the day a great writer has died.

doris lessing2


So here’s something more cheerful.



  • racunista says:

    Thanks for the wonderful movie clip! What (brilliant) orchestra is that?

  • Kenneth Williams: Still better than Evelino Pido.

    OK, I know it won’t make the cut…

  • Concerning Amazon, thinly-disguised eulogies are hardly anything new in the land of Corporalia but its ubiquity augers ill for others, if only because too many people are too lazy to stand up and make a conscious choice for either high streets or diversity. We’ll end up having to order bread off the internet if its teachings are followed to their natural conclusion.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      Or wine! Just out of curiosity, why does you name link to a website about Argentinian wines?

      • Because I love Argentina and its wine.

      • Anon says:

        Wine? I buy most of mine online already. It allows easy communication with regular dealers, and access to interesting excellent smaller producers in other countries who aren’t so easy to find imported into my own. It’s excellent.

        (As an aside, it’s funny how many people who insist huge subsidy should be given to highly-skilled, trained classical artists, and who decry the success of Andre Rieu, Katherine Jenkins an others are themselves happy consumers of mass-market plonk, and would never suggest subsidy for highly-skilled, trained wine-makers nor wish to be forcibly educated away from their Hardy’s Stamp, Jacob’s Creek and more.)

        • Michael Schaffer says:

          I think the wine industry in the EU, like a lot of the agrarian industries, is already pretty massively subsidized. I seem to recall reading annual subsidies for wineries in the EU are something like 1.3 billion Euro – but don’t take my word for it.

          Nobody wants to “forcibly educate” people away from popular music towards “classical music”, so I don’t quite understand why you are making that comparison.

  • David J Gill says:

    I agree with your dire prognosis for the future. Technology and entrepreneurs will innovate to their benefit regardless of the consequences. In time there will be no need for bricks and mortar retail at all and stratospheric advances in software and robotics will take most of our jobs. We can’t rely on individual consumers making principled choices. We will need to regulate business in the same way we will need to regulate information gathering and privacy against technological capabilities that could eliminate any reality of privacy.

  • Polack says:

    If not for Amazon, I simply wouldn’t be able to buy many books and wonderful classic recordings. AMen.

    • Steve Foster says:

      Agreed. Many fail to see the advantages of the Internet due to its “dark cloud over Pleasantville” reputation. In addition to accessible prices for many is the chance of survival for those mom-and-pop book stores the people above think they’re fighting for. Many of them reside in the Marketplace section of a product, where I tend to shop in order to support them.

      • Michael Schaffer says:

        I was going to say the same thing. Looks to me like “Marketplace” is a lot of what used to be small “corner store” type businesses which sell overstock, used books and CDs, etc. Obviously, Amazon take their cut for these sales, but I don’t see anything wrong with that.

        I read the article and yes, that’s not the first article I have read which says that Amazon is evil. But I am not exactly sure who I am supposed to feel sorry for here. Barnes&Noble? Haven’t they flattened lots of independent bookstores themselves?

  • Pixy Harris says:

    I am very grateful to Amazon and use their services constantly, being 😯 miles from the nearest decent bookshop and I don’t even know of a good music shop outside the capital – and none of these can match Amazon for choice, ready availability and goods in pritine condition.

  • John Hames says:

    Books of mine are available on Amazon for knock-down prices, but I don’t want to bad-mouth Amazon especially. If Norman doesn’t like the way capitalist companies compete on price, let him come up with another more socialistic system — I for one would be all in favour. But as it is — and as was said above — Amazon enables people to access culture that they simply wouldn’t be able to otherwise. I was able to acquire, e.g. De La Grange’s four Mahler books for about £120 instead of the RRP of more like £400. It’s a no-brainer, really. I fear Norman is talking rather like the record companies of 20 years ago, bemoaning the advent of the digital age and sending their lawyers out to shore up the existing legal/technical/copyright structures instead of recognising they were in a new age and needed to come up with something new. Writers and their publishers need to change the model too. Oh, and on another topic above, surely the difference between bread and books is that the former needs to be freshly produced on a daily basis, which is why we don’t buy it via the internet, though no doubt some smart entrepreneur has tried it.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      “surely the difference between bread and books is that the former needs to be freshly produced on a daily basis”

      Not in the US! Most of the “bread” you get here is some kind of industrially produced, spongy mass that you could easily sell over the internet. Actual, freshly baked bread is very hard to find here.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Here are three online orders I placed last week:

    – from Amazon: two thermos for my kids. After shopping online, I found on Amazon the models I wanted, at the best prices, with reasonable certainty of delivery within about a week. What’s wrong with that placing that order? What should I have done? I didn’t have time to go to a shopping mall, only to shop from some other “evil” corporation.

    – from my local bookstore: a couple books. Ordered online, will pick up from the store. Some brick and mortar places know how to make themselves accessible in the electronic age.

    – from ArkivMusic: a few cd’s. ArkivMusic have a great catalog, easy to search, and fully deserve to be in business.