Cheap Words – The New Yorker

Cheap Words – The New Yorker:

Amazon is a global superstore, like Walmart. It’s also a hardware manufacturer, like Apple, and a utility, like Con Edison, and a video distributor, like Netflix, and a book publisher, like Random House, and a production studio, like Paramount, and a literary magazine, like The Paris Review, and a grocery deliverer, like FreshDirect, and someday it might be a package service, like U.P.S. Its founder and chief executive, Jeff Bezos, also owns a major newspaper, the Washington Post. All these streams and tributaries make Amazon something radically new in the history of American business. Sam Walton wanted merely to be the world’s biggest retailer. After Apple launched the iPod, Steve Jobs didn’t sign up pop stars for recording contracts. A.T. & T. doesn’t build transmission towers and rent them to smaller phone companies, the way Amazon Web Services provides server infrastructure for startups (not to mention the C.I.A.). Amazon’s identity and goals are never clear and always fluid, which makes the company destabilizing and intimidating.

Like everyone else I can’t resist the convenience and cost savings that I get from Amazon. But I have to admit I don’t know anything about the changes that it’s brought upon the publishing and retail industry in America or elsewhere. Having a local branch of Amazon in Singapore would be amazing but it would probably wreck havoc upon the many local stores here; most of which are already facing intense competition.

There’s been a lot of debate about Amazon in recent months as to whether they’ve become too powerful and whether this is bad for books in general. I guess if a company becomes so big that they have enough power to bully their suppliers to give them more favourable prices that’s bad right because it means those suppliers have to squeeze other people including reducing salaries etc. But on the other hand having cheaper prices benefits consumers right?

I’m so confused.


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