The commentariat continues to hold forth on Amazon’s negotiations with Hachette (and other publishers). If this isn’t a watershed moment, determining the shape of the book industry from here on, it won’t be for the lack of trying on the part of the media. The wonderful part of it all is that nobody seems knows anything about what’s really going on so speculation is allowed free rein. 

The New York Times of Sunday 13 July has a big article featuring a satisfied Amazon author and an ambivalent Marlie Wasserman, Director of Rutgers University Press, among others. No conclusions are really reached. Hugh Howey has of course weighed in again, in his usual over-the-top mode. Mike Shatzkin makes a good attempt to talk him down, answering his intemperate post paragraph by paragraph.

In the issue of 13 June, The Times Literary Supplement reviews a book published by Amazon CreateSpace, Alan Macfarlane’s Thomas Malthus and the Making of the Modern World, 9781490381855. (He publishes quite a lot, including several at CreateSpace — and I am particularly interested in his work as we sat in the same classroom when we were teenagers.) I don’t track this but I do believe this is the first time a book published by Amazon has been reviewed in this bastion of the literary tradition (or at least it’s the first I remember — which I agree is far from the same thing). The TLS has reviewed an e-book before, so that may have priority. This one is available as a Kindle book as well as in paperback (CreateSpace doesn’t make hardbacks). At a time when we see such nonsense as an embargo at Barnes and Noble of Amazon-published books, it is heartening to see this review, treating the book as a book, not a missile to be lobbed over the barricades in a trade war.

Now The Digital Reader comes up with the thought, what if Amazon bought Simon & Schuster? Is that logical? This chart (from Writer’s Workshop via Book Patrol) suggests that margin might be a motive.