Tuesday, July 29, 2014

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NY1 teams with the Huffington Post and Slate.com to review the latest books and book-related technologies.

The Book Reader: Is Amazon The Hero Or The Villain Of The Publishing World?

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Andrew Losowsky of The Huffington Post reports on newly released book titles and the world of publishing in NY1's twice-weekly living segment, "The Book Reader."

It's allergy season right now, as you can hear in my voice, and if there's one thing that makes publishing industry splutter, it's Amazon.com. The online giant founded in 1994 now dominates the industry, as it competes on every level with bookstores, publishers and device manufacturers.

Amazon knows more about reading probably than anyone has ever. It knows what books we buy, what books we talk about now that it owns the website Goodreads, how and when we read, and how quickly, through the Kindle, which dominates e-reading. And they don't share that information with anyone.

However, the truth is that people like Amazon for two simple reasons: they're cheap and their products are easy to use. If the book industry had been on top of that earlier, there wouldn't have been a reason for Amazon to exist.

Yet Amazon isn't infallible. There's still room for innovation in the realms of e- and physical books, while some bookstores are being reinvented as community hubs with a real-world touch that Amazon can't replicate.

Amazon could also be seen as the best thing that ever happened to publishing. It revolutionized digital reading. It made self publishing fast and easy. It helps readers find books. Yet sometimes it acts like a cartoon villain with its insistence on secrecy and its aggressive behavior, including a history of lobbying states to avoid paying sales tax.

This makes it easy for people to hate Amazon. In fact, as books compete with myriad other distractions from digital devices, Amazon is helping to keep people reading. Is it a hero or a villain? Like the plot of a great book, things are a lot more complicated than that.

To follow the latest in Amazon's dealings, visit huffpostbooks.com.

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