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Mary Heede

All us authors should love Amazon, shouldn’t we. It can send our work all around the world. I’m sold through it. Plus I’m a user, a customer; I feed the beast like everyone else. And yet, I’m more than a little uncomfortable when I do so. It would be fine if there were a dozen Amazons, competing globally with each other, but there aren’t. The original has established a marketplace position that is so dominant that if it were a normal high street trader it would have fallen foul of monopoly watchdogs long ago. But it isn’t normal, as my generation understood the word. It’s a monster out for global domination. In pursuit of that goal, it is now being aided and abetted by the US Department of Justice. As witness, the DoJ decided recently that in selling ebooks through Amazon on an agency basis, the major publishing houses were operating as a cartel, and so it came down on them with all its federal weight. Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, will be laughing all the way to Fort Knox over that one. For sure, he is already chuckling over his clever little smart-phone app, which allows people to go into their local bookstore, pick a title off the shelf, scan the bar-code, buy it there and them from him, then put the poor small store-keeper’s unsold copy back on the shelf. If the good old DoJ saw any morality in its remit, it would have shat on that one long ago, but it doesn’t, and hasn’t. So you see, Mary, when you mention Amazon to me, you trigger all sorts of stuff.

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