The Next Big Squeeze

Tents housing homeless line a street in downtown Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

Amazon is cutting out the middle man, and getting into the publishing biz. That’s not just ebooks, but paper books, too:

It has set up a flagship line run by a publishing veteran, Laurence Kirshbaum, to bring out brand-name fiction and nonfiction. It signed its first deal with the self-help author Tim Ferriss. Last week it announced a memoir by the actress and director Penny Marshall, for which it paid $800,000, a person with direct knowledge of the deal said.

Publishers say Amazon is aggressively wooing some of their top authors. And the company is gnawing away at the services that publishers, critics and agents used to provide.

Several large publishers declined to speak on the record about Amazon’s efforts. “Publishers are terrified and don’t know what to do,” said Dennis Loy Johnson of Melville House, who is known for speaking his mind.


They’re right to be terrified.

While I’m not sure the big publishing houses have been quite as evil as the record labels, its undeniable that authors have been cheated, the midlist has been squeezed almost to extinction, and that political correctness has ruled for far too long.

They’re getting what they deserve.


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