The New York Times reports on authors forming a group to back publisher Hachette in its quest to have Amazon.com charge consumers higher prices for books. A literary agent is quoted:
“It’s very clear to me, and to those I represent, that what Amazon is doing is very detrimental to the publishing industry and the interests of authors,” the agent said. “If Amazon is not stopped, we are facing the end of literary culture in America.”
And author Ursula Le Guin:
“We’re talking about censorship: deliberately making a book hard or impossible to get, ‘disappearing’ an author,” Ms. Le Guin wrote in an email. “Governments use censorship for moral and political ends, justifiable or not. Amazon is using censorship to gain total market control so they can dictate to publishers what they can publish, to authors what they can write, to readers what they can buy. This is more than unjustifiable, it is intolerable.”
Oh come on. Censorship is a real thing in this world, with governments making books unavailable to their citizens to read. I have quite a few such books on my shelf. I bought them through Amazon. And I can easily buy books by Ms Le Guin in this country, and nobody, including Amazon, is telling her publishers what they can publish, or her what she can write. And it trivializes the plight of authors who actually are censored. We are not facing the end of literary culture in America. I wish Amazon and Hachette would resolve this, and I do not support some tactics that Amazon has used. But the rhetoric is getting just a bit ridiculous.
UPDATE: Regal Cinemas and Cinemark are engaged in censorship?
UPDATE (October 5): New York Times Public Editor: ‘Publishing Battle Should Be Covered, Not Joined.’