Unlike past advances in retail gratification–the emergence of the supermarket in the mid-20th century, say, or the more recent rise to dominance of Walmart superstores–the workings of Amazon are almost entirely hidden from view. Amazon doesn’t want customers focused on the mechanics of its seemingly magical powers. But last month, the company gave WIRED a rare glimpse into one of the more than 90 warehouses it operates across the globe, looking to show that its fulfillment machine is finely tuned not just to serve Amazon itself but anyone else who wants to sell stuff on its site.
All of this angst and arguing is pushing forward a question: Is the resistance to Amazon a last-ditch bid to keep the future of American literary culture out of the hands of a rapacious corporation that calls books “demand-weighted units,” or an effort by a bunch of dead-enders and snobs to forestall a future that will be much better for most readers and writers?
Mr. Zandri, who 15 years ago had a $235,000 contract with a big New York house that went sour, has an answer.
“Everything Amazon has promised me, it has fulfilled — and more,” he said. “They ask: ‘Are you happy, Vince? We just want to see you writing books.’ That’s the major difference between corporate-driven Big Five publishers, where the writer is not the most important ingredient in the soup, and Amazon Publishing, which places its writers on a pedestal.”