I do think this needs to be said. Richard Charkin’s open letter of thanks to Jeff Bezos is fair and balanced. It appears at Publishing Perspectives.

Humankind is built to resent a winner. We are all (in the book business) very ready to criticize Amazon. Of course they make our lives difficult by seeking to redistribute the surplus available on any book sale; to redistribute it away from publishers and towards their own coffers. What a surprise! They negotiate hard: and while it’s obviously difficult to fight and win against them, they tend to win because they are actually vital to the publishing industry. If the boot were on the other foot, we publishers would never ever contemplate reducing discounts to booksellers, or tightening royalty terms, or upping prices and reducing production standards to make the public pay more for less, would we? In all businesses I expect people love to complain about their largest customers, especially if they are large enough to demand special treatment. We used to grumble about Barnes & Noble: now we go on about Amazon.

But however much publishers love to inveigh against them, we have to acknowledge that Amazon does also sell most of our books. Say that again: Amazon sells most of our books. And they are extraordinarily good at what they do. Almost everyone who has done any online buying has benefitted from the efficiency with which Amazon can get stuff to you, and I mean all sorts of stuff, not just books. They seem always to have everything, so you’re not subject to the vagaries of your local retailer’s inventory control. Be careful what you wish for. Sure you can say it and be pretty sure it’ll never happen: but what if Amazon went out of business? Without Amazon all publishers would be in big trouble now. Some may be in trouble in any case, but most are doing fine, and many are looking forward to record sales for the year despite pandemic shutdowns.

A little gratitude might be not inappropriate. (Not that they really need it!)