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?
On Sunday, November 21, at the 2014 Miami International Book Fair, CCC’s Chris Kenneally moderates, “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. CCC’s Beyond the Book will present an audio podcast of the session next week.
In the meantime, we reprise last year’s discussion, “New World of Books,” featuring Albanese and Teicher on the so-called “e-book price-fixing” case, and its aftermath.
The arrival of the iPad in 2010 was hailed as the dawn of the “tablet era.” It is also remembered a the genesis of a federal price-fixing lawsuit that entangled Apple and many of the country’s largest book publishers. The case holds serious implications for readers, as well as authors and publishers, whether or not they’ve ever bought or published an e-book.
“As a reporter who covered the case closely, I saw a revealing portrait of an industry still struggling with market-changing technological innovation,” Andrew Albanese said in 2013. “Incredibly, the Apple litigation may prove to be a blessing in disguise for the publishing industry. By intervening, the U.S. Department of Justice may very well have saved the publishers from themselves.
“After all, the publishers’ hastily launched scheme with Apple in 2010 at best represented a stop-gap solution to what the defendants perceived as their biggest problem: Amazon’s low e-book prices,” he explained. “But in 2013, publishers face an even greater challenge: the iPad they so enthusiastically embraced as a wedge against Amazon’s Kindle – as well as its ever-expanding tablet competitors – have ushered in an era of never-ending competition for consumer attention, and all on a single device. Yes, you can read an e-book on your tablet, but that isn’t why you buy one.”