Eric Lindner, author of Hospice Voices, writes the Soapbox column, headed “Sympathy for the Devil” in the Publishers Weekly issue of 16 December. It’s only available to subscribers, but if you are one, here’s the link.

He starts off “I know some People of the Book consider Mr. Bezos more Antichrist than Messiah, and Amazon more the river Styx than the (parted) Red Sea. But those folks aren’t paying attention to . . . where the greenbacks are going.”  Bezos is “passionate about books” and has “risked his very uncertain, hard-won fortune on it.” For this we should all be grateful.

Has Jeff Bezos imperiled independent bookselling? The harsh reality is that all businesses are subject to the challenges of the marketplace, and bookshops were under stress even before Amazon. Those that remain are the stronger for the challenge of Amazon. (No doubt the same argument could be made about publishing companies, though Mr. Lindner doesn’t take up that cudgel.) What about the quality of writing — hasn’t that suffered? — He denies the charge. Kindle he identifies as a godsend for people with poor vision, among who are many of his hospice patients.

“David Ricardo’s 19th-century theory remains valid today: economies turn on the optimal interplay of the three ‘factors of production’ — land, labor, and cash. As a businessman and a lawyer who’s spent lots of time juggling said factors,” Mr. Lindner writes “I know this: labor’s intellectual capital is the key. . . Thank goodness for Mr. Bezos’s intellectual capital.”

He concludes “So I, for one, wish to thank Mr. Bezos, and his river of books.” Shouldn’t we publishers join with him?