Like it or not we exist in a world dominated by the Internet, which once promised to be a democratizing force, but is now dominated by sprawling corporate gatekeepers such as Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon. What are the dangers to artistic freedom and a diverse culture when global conglomerates and monopolies like Amazon determine what work the public can see and buy?
At the 2014 Miami International Book Fair, on Sunday, November 21, CCC’s Chris Kenneally moderated, “Do Monsters Live in Our Laptops?” with Andrew Albanese, Publishers Weekly senior writer; Franklin Foer, editor of The New Republic; Astra Taylor, author of The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age; and Oren Teicher, executive director of the American Bookseller’s Association.
“Talk of monopoly, market share, and the Department of Justice have dominated the public debate over Amazon, and e-books,” Albanese noted. “But that seems to me as misguided. Antitrust law is simply not equipped to handle the complexities of our reading future. As supporters of Hachette have often argued, books are different—and they are right. Books are ideas. Books are speech. Books are art. Books are a social compact. And it’s time we recognize there is no simple regulatory solution to what are, at their core, cultural, even constitutional questions.”
In addition to Albanese, speakers included –
- Franklin Foer is editor of The New Republic, which is celebrating its centennial in 2014. In an essay for the magazine earlier this month, Foer chronicled how TNR “invented modern liberalism” and became leading left-wing voice in American politics and culture. His international bestseller, How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization, has been translated into 27 languages.
- Astra Taylor is a writer and documentary filmmaker. She is author of The People’s Platform –Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age, a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice from Metropolitan Books.Her films include Zizek!, a feature documentary about the world’s most outrageous philosopher, which was broadcast on the Sundance Channel, and Examined Life, a series of excursions with contemporary thinkers. Her writing has appeared in The Nation, Salon, Monthly Review, The Baffler, and other publications.
- Oren Teicher became CEO of the American Booksellers Association in 2009. Founded in 1900, the ABA – online at www.bookweb.org – is a not-for-profit trade organization for independently-owned bookstores. At ABA for nearly 25 years, Oren has worn many hats. He was Associate Executive Director; Director of Government Affairs; and Chief Operating Officer. Publishers Weekly named Teicher and the ABA Board the PW 2013 Person of the Year “for their role in leading the resurgence of independent bookselling.”