The Problem the Left Sees With Amazon

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They hate better productivity and the lower prices it brings.

Steve Coll writes in a review of The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon:

Jeff Bezos’s conceit is that Amazon is merely an instrument of an inevitable digital disruption in the book industry, that the company is clearing away the rust and cobwebs created by inefficient analog-era “gatekeepers”—i.e., editors, diverse small publishers, independent bookstores, and the writers this system has long supported….

Toward the end of his account, Stone asks the essential question: “Will antitrust authorities eventually come to scrutinize Amazon and its market power?”…there are reasons to be wary about who will prevail in such a contest, if it ever takes place. As Stone notes, “Amazon is a masterly navigator of the law.” And crucially, as in so many other fields of economic policy, antitrust law has been reshaped in recent decades by the spread of free-market fundamentalism. Judges and legislators have reinterpreted antitrust law to emphasize above all the promotion of low prices for consumers, which Amazon delivers, rather than the interests of producers—whether these are authors, book publishers, or mom-and-pop grocery stores—that are threatened by giants.

For the record, I can’t think of anything more beneficial to small publishers than the publishing capabilities offered by Amazon. Indeed, through Amazon’s CreateSpace publishing platform, an individual can quite easily become his own publisher with little in the way of publishing costs. It is truly a spectacular advance.

Further, if at any point the book gains some sales traction, Amazon will use its powerful distribution platform to bring such a book to the attention of even more readers. Amazon is about selling books and other things. There is nothing Amazon wants to do more of than sell more and more books, as cheaply as possible. What is really to hate? Amazon is providing a spectacular service to consumers and providing authors with alternatives to the traditional book publisher gatekeepers.

And note well the use of the term ” free-market fundamentalism” in Coll’s review. It subtly implies that advocacy of free markets is somehow more religion than scientific-based advocacy. BS. Free market advocacy is about bringing more efficient methods to the markets. It should not go unnoticed that the anti-Amazon review of an anti-Amazon book in the New York Review of Books  includes a link to Amazon by NYRB for those who want to quickly, easily and cheaply buy the book. In other words, in the end, the Amazon haters have exposed themselves and their complete hypocricy.

Reprinted with permission from Economic Policy Journal.

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